Sunday, April 1, 2012

New Fed Budget: Canada seeks "affordable" CF-18 replacement

The new Canadian federal budget has been released.

This article led me there.

I expected to find more mentions about Defence and the CF-18 replacement than what the reporter found. But I did not.

It says in the budget, that Canada seeks an "affordable" CF-18 replacement.

Updating Defence Capital Funding (page 223)

The Government of Canada has made significant progress towards the implementation of the Canada First Defence Strategy, which outlines a comprehensive, long-term plan to provide the Canadian Forces with the people, equipment and support they need to carry out their core missions in Canada and elsewhere in North America and abroad.

The Government will continue to replace key equipment, including purchasing new ships built in Canada through the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, as well as by acquiring an affordable replacement for Canada’s aging CF-18 fleet to better equip Canada’s men and women in uniform. In order to ensure that funding for major capital equipment procurements is available when it is needed, the Government is adjusting the National Defence funding profileto move $3.54 billion over seven years into the future period in which purchases will be made.

If the DND was confused before, they have no reason to be now. What ever replaces the CF-18 has to be affordable.

Sometime before 2020 would be nice.


Anonymous said...

Go to YouTube, type "The F-35 is a costly mistake" Michael Byers and Stewart Webb (Part 1).

They are announcing new flaws planned purchase on the F-35 which is proposing cheaper viable alternatives to the failed project.

I don't see the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block 2 to be a viable option to replace the CF-18A/B Hornet fleet. Is because the Super Hornet has a similar performance deficiences to the F-35 which the aircraft has a short range and does not have the performance envelope of a true air superiority fighter. The Super Hornets will be outclassed by the Su-27/30 Flanker family of fighters by most regional nations in all key performance parameters, aerodynamic and radar performance by widely available fighters.

Canada and Australia need to get out of this “Hornet country”.

Regards Peter

Anonymous said...

The Advanced F-15E+ Strike Eagle is a combat-proven aircraft the Canadian's should be considering to fulfill their air force requirements.

The F-15 can be modified with the APG-82 AESA, F110-GE-132 engines with 2-D or 3-D thrust vectoring nozzles and supercruising mode (without using afterburners which saves fuel) which needs to be considered, DEWS (Digital Electronic Warfare System), NG (Next Generation) 3-D touch screen cockpit display, digital fly-by-wire flight control system, IRST sensor pod etc.

The reason why the F-15 is a combat proven aircraft is because, during action in the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, Balkans and recently in Afghanistan the F-15 showed its superior ability to perform missions required of the F-X (Fighter Experimental).

The F-15 family of aircraft has a perfect air-to-air combat record of more than 104 victories and zero defeats. F-15s shot down four MiG-29 fighters during the Balkan conflict and 33 of the 35 fixed-wing Iraqi Air Forces aircraft lost in air combat during Operation Desert Storm. During the Balkan conflict, the F-15E was the only fighter able to attack ground targets around the clock, in all weather conditions. The F-15 aircraft are used by the Air Force against terrorist targets.

The F-15 has a fantastic long range endurance, bigger weapons payload and speed capabilities than its F-X competitors. The aircraft will get into a fight, strike with a lethal mix of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, and return more effectively than the other (small airframes with short range such as F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35 JSF) F-X aircraft.

The F-15 is in production. Boeing has built more than 1,500 of all its F-15 models and the company has extended the F-15 production line well into the 2020s to attract and satisfy new and existing customers.

Regards Peter

Cocidius said...

The F-15/SA/SE/SG would be a great aircraft for Canada if they're looking at two engined fighters (which I think they should be).

However if they're looking for the most capable aircraft for the least amount of money they really need to be looking at the Gripen NG.

Anonymous said...


Ok, the F-15 has great track record but is it affordeble? What do Can/Aus need and to what price? Like the F-35 the newest models of F-15 don't come cheap.


Anonymous said...

I like your analysis and concepts regarding a next-gen F-15 class as a viable option, Peter.

I think you detailed some very capable components and system enhancements in your scheme.

I especially advocate and approve of at least evaluating an upgraded GE-132 engine option with possible 2-D vectoring. The engine is advertised to be more durable and reliable, so it should be a worthy consideration to test that claim and if the case, then it would make sense to consider upgrading to that standard as a means to reduce operational risk and even costs.

The only last issue I would see as a fast-tracked requirement would be to push for a modified software upgrade allowing the platform to be fully operated by a single-crew. Canada apparently would not have the crews available to crew 50+ two-seat fighters. So it would seem to be a no-brainer by Boeing to announce this development initiative in my opinion at least. I think they are slacking on that one and underestimate the innovative and market potential of such a variant.

Another proposal which could be evaluated would be to request transfer of 60 +/- USAF F-15C and a few two seat D trainers to RCAF which might otherwise be early retired by USAF because of maximal budgets in an austere environment needed to go towards a reduced F-35 acquisition plan. I'd contemplate said F-15C (via free transfer) being re-assembled in Canada to accept an upgraded class GE-129 or even GE-132 as replacement for the expensive to maintain and older 25k lbf PW engine. I'd also contemplate new hardware upgrades to possibly include a new computer (derivative of Super Hornets next-gen computer?), new APG-82 radar, new EW suite and new touch screen display. Perhaps an investment of $75m investment per aircraft all said and done (including integration and development) could be put into that procurement option as a 20 year interim solution. $75m compared to about $175m equivalent for the total PUC unit cost for the F-35A which Canada would price into the budget differently than would say USAF, but still have to pay. Not sure how feasible it would be in reality but I'd support at least studying such an option.

Anonymous said...

@ anders,

the advanced F-15E+ class is not cheap, no doubt, but it is implied by Boeing as still being a cheaper acquisition option than F-35A at the moment.

Operationally cost wise, a single-crew option modification would obviously bring down LCC costs and the new aircraft should be cheaper to maintain at least in the front-end than USAF's old F-15E per se. (Probably somewhere in the per hour cost ballpark of the EF Typhoon?)

One underestimated savings compared to legacy hornet and Super Hornet would be that a sortie requiring buddy tanking or one strategic in-flight refueling for the Hornet class could be skipped for the F-15E+ equipped with CFT (I'd envisiage a semi-clean CFT with 4x underneath pylons only like the old FASTpack CFT) and two underwing tanks. Thus, having to operate say, 4 aircraft (or 2 + a strategic tanker) for the same sortie where just 2 F-15 could suffice would save considerable operational and fuel costs.

Anonymous said...

Oops, the last statement above ^^ should read "...would ADD considerable operational and fuel costs". Not save.

Anonymous said...

Hello Anders

For example the F-15SE Silent Eagle costs about US$100 milllion. Apart from the F100-PW-220 series of engines which is expensive to maintain and older of course.

Australia is in a similar scenario as Canada which also needs to explore other alternatives to replace our 71 F/A-18A/B fleet. We need a high capability fighter is because Australia is approx 2,222 nm (4,000 km) wide which means (long) range is very important and can't be ignored. Aircraft designed for European use such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, SAAB JAS-39 Gripen, MiG-35 Fulcrum and American F-16 Fighting Falcon and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet are unsuitable. Is because they have too short a range for use by a such a large country as Australia. Small fighters with short range are only ideal for smaller air forces in Europe and some Asian countries to operate them is because their range is not as important and they are surrounded by the small vast land areas, and more surrounding air bases (for any emergency situations e.g. hydraulic and engine failures). They can be equipped with either single or two engines (Actual range varies with mission).

In my own analysis and concepts, the best aircraft for Australia I've researched was the F-22A Raptor. Now that aircraft is ban on export, which was the first option back in the late 1990's.

Second option is the F-15E+, F-15SE or modify the pro-posed single-seat F-15F variant, based on the two-seat F-15E.

Third option is to explore the Russian fighters the mixed fleet of Sukhoi Su-35S Super Flanker-E and T-50 PAK-FA. If you want to find more information about the Russians planes for Australia go to on Saving Billions on Air Forces, you'll probably find it interesting.

The SAAB JAS-39 Gripen NG is not really the right choice for Canada to replace the CF-18A/B fleet is because the Canadian's had a fleet of 112 CF-104G/D Starfighters. At the time their was on-going controversy over the Starfighter's safety record still persists at time of writing. To date they've lost 37 fatalities from the fleet of 238 aircraft operated appears to be extremely high ratio. The Spanish Air Force never lost the F-104 or pilot. They maintained 21 aircraft for 7 years as a high altitude interceptor, from one base with predominately excellent weather and an extensive bird hazard control program, with very experienced fighter pilots and with medium utilisation. The CF-104on the other hand, is heavily utilised, operated at extremely low altitude in foul European (and until recently Canadian) weather, in saturated airspace infested with low flying birds, rolling hills, antennaes, and many other high speed aircraft. To place the F-16V Viper and Gripen NG in the excat environmental circumstances as in any of the CF-104 accidents, and it too would have as high an attrition rate. If you place the twin-engined aircraft in the same situation the rate would be at least halved.

So the reason why the F-15 should be looked at for Canada is to give their nation a hefty firepower and as mentioned before the F-15 has a fantastic long range endurance, bigger weapons payload and speed capabilities than its F-X competitors.

Regards Peter

Anders said...

Hello Peter

Beacuse Boing says $100 million/F-15SE doesn't means it's true, you have to wait and see untill production. Same goes for other new machines like Gripen NG offcourse.

To compare the F-104 to modern one engined ac seems to be a bit unfair. None of the Gripen 39 crasches is due to engine problem for example.

About range, it's all about your defence plan, sensors and basing. If the Canadian AF were getting F-16 50+ I bet they would do the best of the situation and be a threat to any agressive enemy. It's all about cost and don't forget that the problem with the huge size of Canada also means problems for the enemy.

But don't listen to me, I am only a EOD tech from the northen part of Europe trapped in Kongo-Brazzaville doing what I am good at... by the way, it's not spelling in english.

Best regards from a very warm and rainy Congo


Anonymous said...

Hello again Anders

Comparing the F-104 or other single engined planes to the modern ones seems to be a bit fair in my opinion.

Reserach the history of our Mirages. We've had 116 aircraft and lost 41 fatalities, it was heavily utilised, operated at extremely low altitude in any weather, probably in saturated airspace infested with low flying birds, rolling hills, antennaes, many other high speed aircraft and gun firing which caused surges to the SNECMA Atar 9C turbojet which resulted an engine failure.

Although none of the JAS-39 Gripen aircraft crashed, but even their modern turbofan engine is reliable, you still need to be careful is because they are not designed for over water flights and Artic areas as mentioned before and unsafe for many reasons. I've thought about the F-16C/D Block 50+ or F-16E/F Block 60+ as their options. Don't get me wrong the F-16s are a great warplane, but first you have to think about the safety, reliability and suitability for the single engine planes etc.

The F-16C/D/E and F variants subtype with AESA radar and conformal fuel tanks are not really competitive against the Su-30MK, Su-35BM/Su-35-1 on all key performance parameters, the Sukhoi cleanly outclasses the F-16 across the board and the Gripen NG which probably shares many qualities with the F-16.

I still reckon the Advanced F-15 is still affordable and suitable for any air forces needs. Also what Lockheed Martin tell you about the cost on the F-35 e.g. is $65 or $70 million doesn't mean it's true. Is because western stealth aircraft are hanger queens etc. Comparing to the F-22, apart from the maintenance the Raptor is far better and more potent than the F-35 in a lot of respects which can handle high threat zones and compete the Flanker family in air-to-air combat etc. And of course I don't trust what the pro-JSF advocates claim the F-35 is the right choice for any air force and navy needs.

I was listening your opinions and what options you think is best for Canada. But I still reckon they need a best true air superiority fighter that can give their nation a hefty punch and without refuelling too much.

Cheers Peter

Anonymous said...

I tell you what Anders, the Sukhoi family of fighters are a very tough beast to challenge in combat if you're flying e.g. the F-16, Gripen, Rafale, Typhoon, Super Hornet and JSF. In terms of performance parameters, aerodynamic, radar and sensor performance, large armament and range.


Anonymous said...

To another Guest at 11:40 PM

Thank you for letting me know that you like my analysis and concepts regarding a next-gen F-15 class as a viable option for Canada.

I think you detailed some very capable components and system enhancements in your scheme too, about on fast-tracked requirement to push for a modified software upgrade allowing the platform to be fully operated by a single-crew, which I had in my mind for a while to recommend Boeing Co. to develop a new proposed single seat F-15.

Another great alternative you suggested is to evaluate to request transfer of second hand 60 +/- USAF F-15C and a few two seat D model combat capable trainers to RCAF and contemplating a new roadmap upgrades to possibly include a new APG-82 AESA radar, new EW suite, new NG (Next Generation) touch screen cockpit display and F110-GE-129 or 132 turbofan engines and also include supercruising mode as a possibility.

Actually Russia has completed its similar upgrade to its existing Su-27S Flanker-Bs into the Su-27SM variant which included new MFDs to replace the existing analogue avionics and offset the IRST sensor to starboard (to improve the pilots forward visibility) since 2003 to 2009.

Regards Peter

Anonymous said...

And p.s. to Peter... I'm sure we've crossed paths on numerous previous Canadian News release commentary forums over the past year or so :)

I've also been extensively promoting the F-15 (both the donated and upgraded F-15C interim solution on occasion, but mostly the F-15CA 'Northern Eagle' custom new build, built to Canadian requirements).

Anonymous said...

Seems like Australia and Canada should pull the plug on F-35 involvement and go with a version of the F-15E or F-15SE.

...AESA radar, conformal weapon bays from the "Silent Eagle", and 3D thrust-vectoring nozzles from the NASA F-15 ACTIVE project.

Canuck Fighter said...

Great discussion in the comments above.

An F-15E+ variant is the number 1 way to go after the F-35 is canned. It's a solid platform with top-end enhancements that fits both Canada's and Australia's geographic and economic profiles.

At $100M (est) per plane, it may seem expensive but when all costs vs performance are reviewed, X vs Y vs Z are not the same. As stated by those in this discussion thread the F-15 provides, range, load and speed benefits that other aircraft albeit less expensive can not match. In turn, many of the new enhancements such as the fly by wire flight controls, and the availability of GE 132 engines should keep operating costs at or below the known costs of current F-15's.

The real threat out there is the proliferation of the Sukhoi (27/30/35) platform around the world and in particular the Pacific. Short of the having F-22's the next choice down the ladder is an F-15 variant. Both the Saudi's and South Koreans know that, which is why you see a Saudi commitment for 80 units and a likely commitment for more F-15's by the end of 2012 under KFX-iii.