Monday, 28 January 2013

Australian white paper: 2 F-35s be delivered in 2020 (maybe).

In 2009, an RAAF white paper stated that Australia's air force would take delivery of it first F-35 in the year 2014, with a full operational squadron by 2018 and three operational squadrons by the year 2021.

Zoom ahead to 2013, and those numbers have been changed dramatically.  The RAAF will only receive two (count 'em) F-35s in 2020.  Since Australia needs to plug the hole left after it retired its F-111 fleet, it is now buying up more "interim" Super Hornets.

What does this mean for Canada?  It means that there is just about no way for the RCAF to count on replacing its aging CF-18s with F-35s by the time they need to be retired (2020).  Australia has been more committed to the F-35 than Canada (especially now after the "reset"), and are likely to be higher up on the waiting list for new aircraft.

This means if Canada still wants F-35s we will have to choose one of 3 options:

  1. Suffer a loss of fighter capability while we waits for F-35 production to ramp up.
  2. Prolong the CF-18s service life even further by cutting flying hours and/or expensive life extension programs.
  3. Purchase or lease an "interim" fighter like the Australians until more F-35s become available.
Or...  We could just procure an aircraft that WILL be ready by the year 2020.

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