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The official website of Paul Franklin: a father, veteran, activist, motivational speaker, and proud Canadian.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

F-35 Lighting Fighter Jets and Some Hard Choices

Open Comment to the current Liberal leadership:
If the F-35 purchase of 65 fighter jets isn't right due to costs then say so.  

Find an alternative and be positive.  The CF-18's need to be replaced.

Should we buy the Super Hornet? (F-18 E/F a 4th generation fighter 1970's design)
The SAAB Gripen? (a 4th generation fighter)

Or should we look at getting out of NORAD and NATO air defence and just buy missiles (aka BOMARC... although they were nuclear tipped)?

Nuclear defence worked in the 1950's why not now?  Nuclear defence is cheap and the chance of ever using them is minimal so if we are to look at saving money then this may be an option.   Do we pull out of NATO or NORAD?  Space based defence systems?
If the questions are uncomfortable than good.
Suddenly several high tech fighters don't look so bad when the real options are on the table.

Honest debate instead of reaction is all Canadians are looking for.

Members of the CF and vets are frightened of the past... we can not return to it.  The CF of the future has a chance to continue to do good work around the world as a highly trained well equipped force that is willing to do the tough missions. Canada can be the strong middle power that stands on the principles of the women and kids of Afghanistan, the people of Darfur, the Muslims in Bosnia, peace and security in Europe and in North America.  Hard decisions are part of a politicians life... make them.  

We stand in front of the bullets and the explosions so that you don't have to. 

All we ask is the equipment to do the job.  

Look at our history... governments can fall over decisions like this.  The military is always an easy tool for political gain but the consequences can by dire.

(In 1961, the RCAF obtained 66 CF-101 Voodoo aircraft, one of the American designs the RCAF originally rejected, to serve in the role originally intended for the Avro Arrow. The controversy surrounding this acquisition, and Canada's acquiring nuclear weapons for the Voodoos and BOMARCs eventually contributed to the collapse of the Diefenbaker government in 1963.)

I will like to post part of an article that Iggy wrote in 2007 in regards to his first approval of the Iraq war and now his reflections on it.  I think his comments are worthy of note as we in the CF and Canada as a whole suffered under the cutbacks to the military that only a war in Afghanistan and a leader like Gen Hillier took to rebuild the CF we have today.

"I’ve learned that acquiring good judgment in politics starts with knowing when to admit your mistakes.  The philosopher Isaiah Berlin once said that the trouble with academics and commentators is that they care more about whether ideas are interesting than whether they are true. Politicians live by ideas just as much as professional thinkers do, but they can’t afford the luxury of entertaining ideas that are merely interesting. They have to work with the small number of ideas that happen to be true and the even smaller number that happen to be applicable to real life. In academic life, false ideas are merely false and useless ones can be fun to play with. In political life, false ideas can ruin the lives of millions and useless ones can waste precious resources. An intellectual’s responsibility for his ideas is to follow their consequences wherever they may lead. A politician’s responsibility is to master those consequences and prevent them from doing harm."

"I’ve learned that good judgment in politics looks different from good judgment in intellectual life. Among intellectuals, judgment is about generalizing and interpreting particular facts as instances of some big idea. In politics, everything is what it is and not another thing. Specifics matter more than generalities. Theory gets in the way. The attribute that underpins good judgment in politicians is a sense of reality. “What is called wisdom in statesmen,” Berlin wrote, referring to figures like Roosevelt and Churchill, “is understanding rather than knowledge — some kind of acquaintance with relevant facts of such a kind that it enables those who have it to tell what fits with what; what can be done in given circumstances and what cannot, what means will work in what situations and how far, without necessarily being able to explain how they know this or even what they know.” Politicians cannot afford to cocoon themselves in the inner world of their own imaginings. They must not confuse the world as it is with the world as they wish it to be. They must see Iraq — or anywhere else — as it is."
Michael Ignatieff 
New York Times Magazine 

The world as it is and will be.....

Chinese FC-1 and Pakistani JF-17 fighter

Chinese 5th generation stealth fighter under development.

Chinese H -10 stealth bomber (under development)
MIG 1.42 (Russian) 5th Generation stealth fighter
T-50 Sukhoi (Russian) PAK -FA 5th Generation stealth fighter.
Russian UAV Stealth bomber.

TU160 Blackjack (with cruise missile attached over Norwegian Coast 2010)
TU160 Blackjack  (Russian upgraded Strategic Bomber of 2025)
PAK- DA (Future Russian Stealth bomber).
Iranian stealth fighter (Light Combat Aircraft)
Iranian cruise missiles:
X55 and BM- 25 (both nuclear capable and with 3000 kms range)
H-55 AS-15 Kent 2008 G1.jpg

Each country has a chance at greatness but  mistakes of the past must not and can not be repeated.

Leadership is not a text book answer it must be earned.

Paul Franklin
MCpl (ret)

F- 35 ( JSF CTOL 5th generation) cost $96 million each. (Israeli purchase).
F- 22 (Raptor 5th generation) $361 million each (not available for foreign purchase).

F - 16 A/B cost $25 million each. (Taiwan purchase)
F -16 E/ F (Block 60) cost $80 million each.
F - 16 I cost $45 million each.
Comparison of the F-16, F-35, and F-22

Super Hornet (F-18) cost $49.9 million each.
JAS - 39 (Gripen) cost $37.5 million each.
F -15 E (Strike Eagle) cost $108 million each.
Dassualt Rafale C cost $62 million each.
Dassualt Rafale M cost $ 68 million each.
Euro Fighter Typhoon cost $118 million each.
IPB Image
Su 27 (Flanker) Series
J-10 (FC -1)
F-16 E/F (Block 60)

SU- 27 cost $30 million each.
SU- 35 cost $45 million to $65 million each.
PAK -FA (T 50 Sukhoi 5th generation) cost $100 million each.

FC -1 (Chinese 4th generation)  JF - 17 Thunder (Pakistan) cost $17 million each.
J - 10 (Chinese 5th generation) cost $28 million each.

Although these aircraft were all developed beginning in the late 1980s (5th Generation), and for broadly similar missions, there is no common ratio between R&D and acquisition costs.

Below is  piece from an Australian website and showcases some of the needs that the ADF is now facing.  They have chosen the Super Hornet (F-18) but as you can see many feel that it isn't good enough.

"Australia is however pursuing the opposite path in its planning for the future 
region, acquiring 'interim' F/A-18F Super Hornets, and seeking the Joint Strike 
Fighter long term, neither of which are competitive against advanced Flanker variants."

"The new Su-35S is labelled a “4++ Generation”  derivative of the baseline Su-27S 
Flanker B. It is a comprehensive  redesign of the aircraft's systems, and employs a 
supercruise capable 117S variant engine. Depicted the second prototype during 
flight test. The Su-35S is expected to be the last Flanker variant to be mass 
produced before the PAK-FA enters full rate production."

"Reacting to the proliferation of the Flanker, Japan is seeking to acquire the F-22A 

Raptor. South Korean public debate shows an increasing interest in acquiring the 
F-22A, for the same reasons Japan seeks it."


  1. I commend your detail of the up and current technological arms race. But I admit the race is and has been a continual one.

    I agree that politicians must stand up and make the hard decisions and stand by them.

    In Australia that has been done re: F/A-18 Super Hornet/JSF to follow, to the chagrin of a lot of analytical observers. But the decision has been made, with the eventual ratification of the current government.

    The technology we're banking on is the Link information technology between fighter to fighter to Wedgetail AEW&C combining to the precise location of all enemy fighters at all times. This technological web is then dependent on the stealth capability of our fighters and the capability of our missiles striking them before they detect us.

    Stealth, Radar & Missile tech'!

    JDRADM (Joint Dual Role Air Dominance Missile) I wonder what the opposition are designing. "ARGH, the race again!" Dependence?

    Australia has a far greater security perimeter to maintain than Canada. More over, you guys live right next to the Sheriff.

    If we can commit to the allied platform as we have done. There must be something in that decision. Both sides of politics have committed to it, and that's a rare thing.

    I hope some strong decisions are made for you soon!

    To peace, cheers.

  2. I have been to the ADF headquarters in 2007 and was suprised at the concern over the Northen flank of Australia. As typical North Americans we are not tuned into the unstable regemies that lay to the North. Our security involves a stable south and somewaht stable north with planes that are out of date but that do have more of a weapons load than you guys have to deal with. This like MAD gives us the security as they are less likely to go to war in our region.

    Althoug I do like the design and features of the CF-35 there are concerns over delivery timelines and the weapons strengths and weaknessess that may not have been fully vetted. As our CF18 age out i think we could look at low hour airframes as a possibility or as the super hornet as another.

    My preferred option would be low hour airframes as if we go into a super Hornet purchase the canadian public and more likely than not the Canadian government of the day will feel it has doesn't enough and avoid any other purchases in a bid for political points.

    Wait for when the sheriff goes by the name of Mrs. Palin.. we are all screwed then!!!

  3. Paul, I just spent half an hour with a big long winded answer and then lost the lot transferring a picture.

    The short of it is, no to Super hornets, like your preferred option and suggest you guys hang out for the KFX. It may be worth investing in, and may be commissioned before the JSF. Who knows?

    All the best.

  4. The KTK Korean fighter sounds like a good option. what the americans aren't understanding is that this tech will trickle down.

    Its only a matter of time.

    I like the Gripen, the Typhoon and the JSF but the costs will be the same.

    The KTK is a good option but untested and so that means like a boat on the water a place to store money.