Saturday, March 24, 2012

Norway and the F-35--speed or delay?

Interesting with all the happy language about Norway and the F-35.

Norway has reinforced their statements about the F-35 in a new Defence White Paper. Although I wonder how one can speed up procurement much when they are stretching out the time-frame to 2024.

A look at the JSF partner nation memorandum of understanding from 2009 (not long after Norway stated their commitment to the F-35 as an F-16 replacement) shows a significant schedule slip.



Note also that Norway is interested in Block 4 which supposedly will have a drag chute. The early mistake-jet training aircraft won't be of much use.

It will be interesting to see what what kind of money ends up being involved.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Norway is replacing all the wings on their F16's.

Robman said...

They'll eventually buy either Gripens or maybe Hyper Vipers.

The F-35 will probably wind up getting cancelled. This is especially likely if Obama gets re-elected. I'm sure he intends to cancel the F-35.

This would not make anyone here cry, not even me (although I despise Obama).

Trouble with Obama is that he'd probably not do anything intelligent to compensate for cancelling the F-35.

I'd cancel the F-35, too. But I'd re-start the F-22, and get several hundred for the USAF, as they originally wanted. Then, I'd replace the legacy F-16 fleet with new-build F-16D Block 52+ or maybe Block 60, like the F-16I or F-16F.

They USN could just get more Super Bugs, which was their Plan B in the event the F-35 fell through. The USMC would also get the Super Bug, which works just dandy for what they have to do in any event, despite their objections (i.e., CAS/BAI, battlefield air superiority).

Looking down the road, I'd be working on advanced UCAVs.

Eric, your post a while back describing a hypothetical press release in which Canada buys the Super Bug was likely all but prophetic. When I read the reports that Canada had ordered the F-35, all I could think was that it was nothing but fantasy. There is no way Canada is ever really going to take delivery of that aircraft. I fully expect Canada to get the Super Bug.

Some here have suggested a Canadian Eagle. That's interesting, and that might work very well for the air sovereignty mission, but I can't see the Eagle really being used to support ground forces in a CAS/BAI context, which is also a mission for Canadian tac air (which was why you had F-5s way back when, and is also one of the missions of the CF-18).

But, I could be wrong. Canadian Eagles would be interesting (you'd finally get what you were originally after with the Avro Arrow).

Eric, you also posited Gripens for Canada. If you're going to go the single engine route, though, I'd skip the Gripen and just get advanced F-16s of the F-16I-type variety. Not quite as good in terms of turning, but with F-110-132 engines, more powerful, better payload, and with CFTs and 600 gal. underwing tanks, better range. Your close relationship with Israel would get you ready commonality for top-notch avionics, too (an avenue you might also readily exploit for a Canadian Eagle; I think that had a lot to do with Singapore's choice of the F-16D+/F-15SG combination).

ELP said...

I put the Gripen out there just to illustrate how low in operating costs one could go if they were so inclined.

Anonymous said...

Rob,

If going the F-16 route, the latest version being marketed by LM is the reported F-16V which apparently has avionics based on the F-16IN proposal, in addition to new display. I'd concur with you to select the F-110-132 engine for the matters of increased reliability and enhanced durability. As you brought up the F-16I, I'm curious if Israel might even be a customer now for the F-16V as a stopgap.

With respect to the F-15 not being a strong CAS/BAI platform, I think you're confusing the F-15C with the actual F-15s (ie F-15E based) being rolled off the line and those to follow this decade.

The later is of course has BEEN a game-changing CAS/BAI platform, as well as Strike, as well as enabling Air Sovereignty capability and is adding to these capabilities. (eg with new sensors, displays, weapons integration).

The problem Canada has with the 'F-15CA' as an option is that they are apparently in a single seat market, not twin-seat. At the least, they would need to fast-track the request to ensure software modification to allow pilot-only systems and weapons operation.

Robman said...

Anonymous:

Oh, I know very well the F-15E family is an extremely powerful strike platform. But given the cost, is it one you'd want to risk over a battlefield, going after armored columns or troop positions as opposed to bigger, deeper targets of strategic value? I know F-15Es have been used for CAS in Iraq and Afghanistan, but those have been in contexts where pretty much all serious local opposition in the form of SAMs or AAA has been completely destroyed.

I suppose at $55 million a copy, even a Super Bug might not be an asset you'd want to use to go after some APCs, so it is academic to an extent. But the Eagle is still a good bit more expensive than that.

As to your next point, yes, I'd fully expect Israel to order more Hyper Vipers....if Obama would sell them. But he won't. Obama has made it harder for Israel to get new platforms than any president since before Nixon. The U.S. under Obama only provides Israel with spare parts and munitions (and even then on condition, in real terms, that she doesn't do anything that would require their use, no matter how justified), and has provided them with some C-130s, and then there is the joint theater missile defense projects that benefit both countries (but Israel most immediately). He has sold Israel about 20 JSFs, but he only did this, I believe, because he doesn't intend for there ever to be a JSF if he gets another term. Israel has been screaming for new AH-64s to replace airframes that are simply wearing out, and has also expressed interest in the F-15SE, to which Obama has said "no". Meanwhile, he sells a record number of F-15s and Apaches to Saudi Arabia...

Obama is nothing but a Saudi Manchurian Candidate stooge, in my humble opinion. But that's another subject (but it explains why he screwed your fair land on Keystone...he has to keep the U.S. dependent on Saudi oil; that is the real ultimate effect of his stupid energy policies...).

I honestly don't know if Obama is getting re-elected. From my perspective over here (I reside in Ohio), I am concerned that Ron Paul will run as a third party candidate, fracturing the Republican vote and handing Obama another term. But if Ron Paul does not play the role of spoiler in that fashion, in a garden variety two-way race, I expect Obama to lose the election. Barring a brokered convention, Romney will be the nominee, and if Paul stays out, Romney will be president a year from now.

He's got his own problems, but he'll be a big improvement over Obama. And with him, where you are concerned, you'll get your Keystone pipeline then, definitely.