Friday, March 2, 2012

Canada can't afford 65 F-35s

The Canadian DND is still in trouble with their F-35 cost figures.

I have provided some assumptions below that indicate Canada can never afford 65 F-35s. The government has already stated they want to keep within the $16B budget. So, with that, how many F-35s can they afford?

One of the key assumptions is that the aircraft becomes a combat capable system. With all the troubles, we don't know.

It is foolish to buy anything before a low-rate-initial production batch 9 aircraft. If there are no other technical show stoppers (unlikely given the history of the program), a concerned buyer wants the final Block 3f software and all the bugs and major technical problems worked out. LRIP-9 is about as early a buy as you want to go.

If Canada doesn't fly the jet much, they might be able to park all 65. They won't have a combat capability of worth though.

The flying hours I have shown below are scary. 180 hours a year per airframe only gets you one pilot per jet with minimum qualifications and recurrent training. This is not a reasonable combat deterrent unless all your air wars are 1 sortie per F-35.

The chart does not show extra things like facilities and some other needed accessories. For example: those AIM-120D AMRAAM air-to-air missiles at $2.5M each.

The DND still has a lot more work to do in order to prove this massive military acquisition to the taxpayer.

(click image to make larger)


geogen said...

Excellent summary and well prepared post, Eric. My gut feeling has put the afforded number of F-35 aircraft in the 45 ballpark, but usually my guesstimates turn out to be conservative. Your outline and assessment is even more revealing and striking. Very informative as always.

Canuck Fighter said...

Another great post as usual ELP. Keep up the great work. As a Canadian and pro spending on new fighters, one has to wonder what kind of drugs the DND is on, thinking they can afford the mistake-jet (assuming it works).
The Boeing choices are clearly more cost effective and capable. Not to mention there are plenty of Canadian aerospace companies in Eastern Canada already involved in the making of parts for those planes.