Thursday, 17 April 2014

What's taking so long?

Not yet ready to fly off into the sunset.
Looks like this blog might be around for a while yet...

By all accounts, it looks like Canada won't able to start receiving new fighter aircraft until 2018 at the earliest.  There has been some progress however, as the "secretariat" seems to have finished looking at the CF-35 and its rivals.  It is now up to the federal government to make the next step.

What will that next step be?

If the Canadian government decides to continue on with the F-35, it needs to plunk money down now in order to take delivery in 2018.  That's looking more and more unlikely.  A general election is scheduled for October 2015 (possibly earlier) and the current government will likely hold off any decision until after that.  Dropping billions towards new fighters will simply evaporate any hope of the Conservative Party of Canada's (CPC) promise to balance the budget.

The Buffalo will roam for a little while longer too.
The current CPC government has made it clear they are in no hurry to procure new military equipment.  This is made abundantly clear by its recent decision to throw out all progress made on the fixed wing search and rescue (FWSAR) replacement program and start over.  Seeing as how the FWSAR program is even further behind that of the CF-18 replacement, it seems to be almost certain that the Tories will restart the fighter replacement program under its new Defense Procurement Strategy (DPS).  If nothing else, it gives reason enough to delay any decision for another year or two.

In the end, this might not be such a bad thing.

There seems to be no reason to rush into buying the F-35.  It is still trouble prone and over budget.  Any airframes bought now would likely have to be sent back to correct problems still being found.  It is still far from a mature platform.  Meanwhile, the Gripen E/F should be just about ready by 2018.   The Typhoon will likely have its fancy new AESA radar and EFTs.  The Advanced Super Hornet may have gotten the go-ahead by then as well.

The future production of the Super Hornet and Typhoon is still very much up in the air, with production tentatively winding down in 2016 and 2017 respectively.  Both will likely fight tooth-and-nail to win orders from Denmark.  A Canadian order could very well save those production lines, but would it be in time?  Most likely, lines could be slowed down, but not shut down during an active bidding process...  As long as things don't take too long.

Of course, the one real drawback to waiting longer is that our current fleet of CF-18s will have to soldier long past their prime.  Let us just hope that current tensions in the Asian Pacific and the unpleasantness in Ukraine don't boil over in the meantime.


  1. I would have agreed that the Conservatives were going to, at the very least, postpone the decision until after the next election. However, the announcement of 6 CF18's being deployed to Poland in support of NATO may have changed things. I am now concerned they will generate enough of a fear factor and gain leverage to force the F35 decision through. In support of this is the recent press announcements that the F35 is still the first choice It seems like they are trying to "negative option" us with the statement of requirements (SOR) which was hastily written around the time of the restart. The Ukraine situation and CF18 deployment maybe enough of a position to get them through an election.

  2. Not long to go now Doug: