|A Gripen standing over two UAV prototypes. |
|The Gripen fuels via a "probe-and-drogue" as currently used in Canada.|
|Canada could use its many "Hercs" as aerial tankers.|
- Training. Give our military personal the instruction and practice required to be the very best. Keeping a well staffed, well trained roster is of the utmost importance.
- Better weapons. Arm the RCAF Gripen with cutting edge missiles that offer the greatest accuracy and range.
- UAVs. Purchase UAVs to supplement RCAF fleet.
The training part is a self-explanatory. Part of the reason for America's air dominance over Iraq, Vietnam, and Korea was simply due to its pilots being better trained than their enemy. Canada has a proud history of fine pilots starting with Billy Bishop and Wilfred "Wop" May. Let's keep that tradition going.
|The MBDA Meteor currently being tested on the Gripen.|
I have already mentioned the MBDA Meteor on this blog. Currently finishing development, it promises to be a leap forward compared to the AIM-120 AMRAAM currently used on the CF-18 and F-35. What makes the Meteor different is its use of a ramjet rather than a conventional rocket motor. This allows it to alter its speed giving it better accuracy and range. It uses a 2-way data link between it and its launching fighter to locate its target. The Meteor will then alter its speed so that it ideally runs out of fuel just as it it hits its target. Older missiles such as the AMRAAM use a rocket motor that propels them at fixed speed. Any manoeuvres made cause it to lose energy and accuracy. Once the rocket fuel is burned out, the missile quickly slows and becomes ineffective.
The Meteor was originally planned for the F-35, but in its current form, can't fit in the F-35's weapon bay. A modified version is being considered, but so far there are no concrete plans.
But what about ground targets? The F-35's weapon bay seems better suited for either short-range Brimstone missiles or precision guided bombs. These require the fighter to get deep into enemy territory to neutralize its intended target, violating enemy airspace and slipping through defences. Wouldn't it be easier just to shoot from a safe distance? Sounds like a job for a Stand-off munition, also known as a Air Launched Cruise Missile, or ALCM.
|The Gripen armed with test versions of the Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missile.|
Canada wouldn't need to seriously break the bank to field ALCMs. Spain ordered a total of 43 Taurus KEPD 350 ALCM at a cost of €60 million, or roughly $80 million, about the original estimated cost of a single F-35. With a range of 500km, missiles like these could really keep our fighters a safe distance from enemy defences, performing a role of "aerial sniper".
Cruise missiles are basically a form of UAV, a "kamikaze" UAV, but a UAV nonetheless. So let's expand on this.
Canada is a big country with lots of wide, open space to monitor. In order to maintain its sovereignty, Canada must maintain some sort of presence and keep a watchful eye over its land. Flying high over miles of frozen tundra doesn't seem like best use of an expensive fighter aircraft does it? Instead, let's give that job to a UAV.
|The proposed "Polar Hawk" UAV.|
|An marine patrol variant of the Global Hawk, the MQ-4C Triton.|
|A hypothetical replacement for the CP-140 Aurora, the "Argus II".|
NOTE: So far, little attention has been paid to the CP-140 Aurora and its need for a replacement sooner rather than later. Although the Boeing P-8 Poseidon is the most likely choice, the Canadian American Strategic Review website, CASR.ca has some rather interesting Canadian made proposals one based on the Bombardier Global Express, and another "Argus II" based on the Bombardier C-Series passenger jet. Both of these are fascinating proposals that I would support. (I'm not a huge fan of their proposal to scrap the F-35 purchase in favour of buying F-18G "Growlers" however.)
|The future of stealthy strike aircraft, the X-47B UCAV.|