Re: Tories To Waste Billons On New Fighter JetsAug 20th, 2010
Agreed the F-22 is a better air to air fighter aircraft but lacks the strike capability that the F-35 has. Although you are thinking Canada needs solely interceptors I beg to differ because there may be times when Canada needs to be in a position to have an attack plane as well.
The F-35 is also a fighter although you put the emphasis on bomber.
When both are configured for A2A, the F-22 beats the F-35, whereas when both are configured for Strike, the F-35 beats the F-22.
So, in terms of overall utility, F-22s are, say, 70/30 A2A/Strike, whereas F-35s are 50/50 A2A/Strike.
Now, the thing about Canada is that, yeah, *sometimes* it gets into combats requiring a Strike capability (like when in Kosova as part of NATO), but *most* of the time its main focus is to maintain a northern shield as part of NORAD, which means stuff like chasing off Russians poking into northern airspace to keep their pilots trained and to and to keep diplomacy on edge.
It means that for us, a plane that's 70/30 A2A/Strike makes way more sense than a plane that's 50/50 A2A/strike. If we need Strike capability, we could take an F-22 and reconfigure it for strike, but in the mean time it's going to be used for what we do most of the time, which is present an air defense to somebody flying in daring A2A combat, and *nothing* presents an A2A counter-dare like an F-22.
The US won't sell the F-22's because it has a lot of cool stuff in them that we don't want getting out as of yet.
What's not commonly known is that after Canada buys stuff from other places, whether it be planes or robots from the US, or subs from Britain, they *always* do a comb-over and identify parts that could work better, whereupon they engineer and build replacements for those parts, and swap them out. That was done to certain boards within the F-18s, that was done with the Talon robots, etc. etc. yadda yadda, and *that's* where they get off branding things that were an F with a C.
If you were to sell an F-22 to Canada, they'd *still* do a comb-over and pick out parts they think could work better, and would re-engineer and swap those out, in order to have what in their mind's eye is a better plane and in order to be able to legitimately call it a C-22 instead of an F-22.
What that means is: If you were to sell Canada F-22s with all the components that you want to hold tight stripped out, then it would give Canadian engineers a focus on what they'd be called upon to do anyway, which is find elements within the plane to be filled in with Canadian-made components.
Like I said, even if the jet came fully equipped, they'd go over it anyway to find parts to pull out and replace with home-made parts. In this case it's been made easy for them... it's missing components they have to fill in for themselves, and if they can (and I know they can... Canadian engineers are world-class and mostly vastly underutilized... they should be, given all the money we spend on education), then more than ever they can legitimately call it a C-22 instead of an F-22.
Now we've got the best A2A for northern defense, with is great for NORAD, yet it will still be reconfigurable for Strike if we have to do stuff with NATO, and it's legitimately got enough in it to have really earned the C-22 label this time.
Which brings us to two wrinkles:
1) If Canada really was able to fill in those gaps (which I know Canadian engineers could) then it might make the US a bit edgy.
After the Canucks get done filling in the gaps, it might be the best A2A fighter in the world, and everyone knows that the Pentagon could never relax with the idea of somebody on their northern border buzzing around with a fighter so hot that it might have the capacity to put up a serious resistance should some future President be so gong-headed as to think he needs to invade to get some resources instead of just trade and make both Wall Street and Bay Street happy. (You're the guys with the citrus fruit and the melons and the nice places to visit in the winter, remember? Want some oil? How much beef do you want? When you start building houses again how much timber will you want?)
So, how about this: How about if we just let you see what we did to fill in those gaps, even though you won't let us see what you did for those parts, as long as it's under NORAD?
In terms of making it a fair trade... hmm...
Okay, a big part of the F-35 deal is the maintenance contract. It's $9 billion to buy them, and $7 billion to have them maintained.
Now, there's *no* *way* the maintenance contract can mean having to fly the F-35s down to the States for new tires or to have the windshield wipers changed yadda yadda... Forces Canada would *insist* on being able to do that at Cold Lake (or wherever). The $7 billion for maintenance must mean fixes and upgrades, i.e. patches to the software, newer versions of hardware components, guaranteed supply of replacement parts for components known to wear out with an MTBF rating, etc. etc.
As we fill in the blanks, we toss our solution back to you and you can look at it, and if you like it, you can use it and apply it in your own rounds of upgrades as long as you don't let anyone else see it, i.e., it stays within NORAD.
In exchange, let's see some sharpening of the pencil on the cost of the maintenance contract for the upgrades and replacements for the parts it came with and which we'll have to go back to you for if they break. Specifically, if you ship it with 10% of the components stripped out, then we get a 10% reduction in the maintenance contract *and* a 10% reduction in the original purchase price.
What's that you say? You say you're already doing us a favor letting us soup up a stripped-down F-22?
Maybe, but now we're also doing you a favor by tossing back the results of a second, independent group of engineers designing key components, and sometimes that's the best way to get innovation and improvements... have competing design teams.
So, sell us F-22s with the parts you want to keep private stripped out. If the stripped out parts account for 10% of the overall operability of the plane, then we get a 10% reduction in the initial purchase price, and a 10% reduction in the maintenance contract. In consideration we let you see how we filled in the gaps, even though you won't let us see how you've been filling those gaps, and for us the consideration is that it be kept within NORAD, which is a consideration because we *like* NORAD.
How's that sound?
Wrinkle number 2) is from within Canada itself, and it has two co-dependent sub-components: a) Ottawa's political bureaucracy and b) the marble-heads on nitrous who spend their life figuring out how to plug into a slow-lumbering behemoth and who therefore get freaked and respond first with taunts and then with angry ad hominem attacks - but never with rational analysis - when they see something sending ripples through the comfortable status-quo from which they have learned to leech.
I spent too many years in Ottawa dealing with it, I could write books about it, and let's not get into it right now because frankly sometimes it's more painful to remember something than to have experienced it in the first place, plus it's off the theme of this thread, but the point is this:
Ottawa would be unlikely to approach you with a scheme for sharing F-22 technology like that, even though it would be something the Canadian air force could only dream of, and even though it would be great for keeping Canadian engineers sharp, and even though it would be great for NORAD...
But if *you* guys were to say something like, "Hmm, maybe not a bad idea", then they'd jump up and be crawling all over each other to get in on it from this side of the border, and things would start happening.
What do you think?
The program is not dead, we just don't need a fighter aircraft with limited strike capabilities. In short, we are developing F-22's we are just not buying as many as originally planned at this time.
Besides, Canada has made some significant investments and tech contributions already in the F-35 program.
The F-35 will fill the fighter role that you seek.