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F-35 for Canada

aam641

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I now that Canadian DND picked F-35 a couple of years ago to replace the Hornet. Is there a study or white paper on Canadian defence needs that lead to this selection? I have already read tons of arguments for and against, but everything boiled down to armchair pilots (like me) pushing their opinions. So I am now looking for some credible sources on why DND made this choice. Please help!
 

SpudmanWP

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http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/pri/2/pro-pro/ngfc-eng.asp
 

aam641

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Thanks, I have also read
http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/pri/2/pro-pro/ngfc-fs-ft/notes-eng.asp
which states:


"The analysis of the quantitative mandatory requirements associated with these high-level mandatory capabilities for Canada’s next fighter made it clear that only a 5th generation fighter could satisfy our mission needs in the increasingly complex future security environment."

Anybody know what specifically these requirements are? I have also seen the following, but it is equally vague and not quantitative.
http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/pri/2/pro-pro/ngfc-fs-ft/mcr-bce-eng.asp
 

Avimimus

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There was a large amount of outrage initially because the decision was made without competition and prior to asking the armed forces to produce a requirement. This later lead to the publication of a set of requirements and talk about an open competition.

I find the whole question of requirements quite interesting:

- The F-35A isn't a bad choice if the airforce is intended to act as auxiliaries to larger NATO deployments.

- It is poorly suited to operating in the Canadian Arctic due to the lack of arrester hook (the F-35C would be a better choice in this case), less than exceptional range, and dubious cold weather capabilities, and lack of a twin engined layout (something Canadians tend to be very ideological about). Super-cruise would be very useful in such an environment as well. The Arctic interceptor requirement would really be best filled by an aircraft with specifications matching the Mig-31 (aircraft designed around defending a larger northern area).

- The F-35B could be easily dispersed and would allow a quick counter-attack capability (especially if nuclear capable) in the case of a war with the United States (or Canada being attacked during a hypothetical American civil war). It could also do the tasks of the F-35A pretty well. Note: I'm not endorsing such a purchase or civil war by speculating about it - just doing what militaries always do - contingency planning.
 

Colonial-Marine

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I doubt the Canadians would really be willing to pay the costs associated with operating a true interceptor along the lines of the MiG-31.
 

kitnut617

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Well that's peanuts really ---- considering the present Canadian Government (Liberals) has just splashed out C$4.5 Billion on a pipeline ----
 

sferrin

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Avimimus said:
There was a large amount of outrage initially because the decision was made without competition and prior to asking the armed forces to produce a requirement. This later lead to the publication of a set of requirements and talk about an open competition.

I find the whole question of requirements quite interesting:

- The F-35A isn't a bad choice if the airforce is intended to act as auxiliaries to larger NATO deployments.

- It is poorly suited to operating in the Canadian Arctic due to the lack of arrester hook (the F-35C would be a better choice in this case), less than exceptional range,
How does Canada manage with Hornets? (And Canada's best option would be late model Eagles.)
 

Avimimus

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sferrin said:
Avimimus said:
There was a large amount of outrage initially because the decision was made without competition and prior to asking the armed forces to produce a requirement. This later lead to the publication of a set of requirements and talk about an open competition.

I find the whole question of requirements quite interesting:

- The F-35A isn't a bad choice if the airforce is intended to act as auxiliaries to larger NATO deployments.

- It is poorly suited to operating in the Canadian Arctic due to the lack of arrester hook (the F-35C would be a better choice in this case), less than exceptional range,
How does Canada manage with Hornets? (And Canada's best option would be late model Eagles.)
Well, as mentioned, the F/A-18/CF-188/CF-18 has arrestor gear which allows it to be operated from iced over runways in the north (especially rotations to Goose Bay and to NORAD RFOLs) - hence why the F-35C would be a better pick. The twin engined layout also reduced the need to have search and rescue on standby if there is an engine failure (which makes it safer to operate from bases which have limited infrastructure).

I agree that the F-15 would be a better choice (or possibly a Typhoon with saddle tanks) except that it might need modification for carrier operations. The TFX/F-111 or F-14 might also be a suitable platforms if they weren't so dated.
 

sferrin

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Avimimus said:
Well, as mentioned, the F/A-18/CF-188/CF-18 has arrestor gear which allows it to be operated from iced over runways in the north (especially rotations to Goose Bay and to NORAD RFOLs) - hence why the F-35C would be a better pick. The twin engined layout also reduced the need to have search and rescue on standby if there is an engine failure (which makes it safer to operate from bases which have limited infrastructure).
I notice you studiously avoided the range question I highlighted. The twin engine requirement is a red herring.

Avimimus said:
I agree that the F-15 would be a better choice (or possibly a Typhoon with saddle tanks) except that it might need modification for carrier operations. The TFX/F-111 or F-14 might also be a suitable platforms if they weren't so dated.
I'm fairly certain CF-18s aren't trapping like on a carrier. (Arresting systems are not the same, and every US fighter has the ability to catch the cable of these other systems. Photos below look more like the system the USAF uses.)
 

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Adventurer104

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Avimimus said:
- The F-35A isn't a bad choice if the airforce is intended to act as auxiliaries to larger NATO deployments.

- It is poorly suited to operating in the Canadian Arctic due to the lack of arrester hook (the F-35C would be a better choice in this case), less than exceptional range, and dubious cold weather capabilities, and lack of a twin engined layout (something Canadians tend to be very ideological about). Super-cruise would be very useful in such an environment as well. The Arctic interceptor requirement would really be best filled by an aircraft with specifications matching the Mig-31 (aircraft designed around defending a larger northern area).

- The F-35B could be easily dispersed and would allow a quick counter-attack capability (especially if nuclear capable) in the case of a war with the United States (or Canada being attacked during a hypothetical American civil war). Iut could also do the tasks of the F-35A pretty well. Note: I'm not endorsing such a purchase or civil war by speculating about it - just doing what militaries always do - contingency planning.
Civil war? War with US? Is there a concern about this with our brothers up there?
 

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sferrin said:
Avimimus said:
Well, as mentioned, the F/A-18/CF-188/CF-18 has arrestor gear which allows it to be operated from iced over runways in the north (especially rotations to Goose Bay and to NORAD RFOLs) - hence why the F-35C would be a better pick. The twin engined layout also reduced the need to have search and rescue on standby if there is an engine failure (which makes it safer to operate from bases which have limited infrastructure).
I notice you studiously avoided the range question I highlighted. The twin engine requirement is a red herring.
Sorry, I could have been clearer: We compensate by deploying the aircraft in forward areas. However, there has been something of a lobby for increased range in order to reduce the need for forward bases (something not possible with the CF-188/CF-18). Like with any military there is a tendency to seek expanded capability with new acquisitions, some people pushed the range angle, others saw the merit of the F-35's improvements in almost all other areas.

IMHO, the question shouldn't be about range, but rather it should really be how effectively it can be winterised and operated from low-grade facilities (e.g. damage to skin, EOTS). Obviously the initial limitation to storage in temperatures of +5 degrees Celsius has been overcome - but there is always the question of how much the life-span of the aircraft will be affected.

As for the twin-engined requirement - I'm not sure it is a red-herring. I know that the USN doesn't require it. However, they usually have SAR capacity on the carriers themselves. Canadians may also have an irrationally folk obsession with twin-engined capability because our last two single engined fighters (F-86 and CF-104) had such high accident rates.

That said, it is worth noting that Russia has repeatedly insisted on twin engined designs (since the Mig-23 at least), and rejected many promising proposals because they lack the twin-engined redundancy. So it might just be a tendency of any country that operates over vast swaths of the Arctic.

sferrin said:
Avimimus said:
I agree that the F-15 would be a better choice (or possibly a Typhoon with saddle tanks) except that it might need modification for carrier operations. The TFX/F-111 or F-14 might also be a suitable platforms if they weren't so dated.
I'm fairly certain CF-18s aren't trapping like on a carrier. (Arresting systems are not the same, and every US fighter has the ability to catch the cable of these other systems. Photos below look more like the system the USAF uses.)
I've read that the strengthened landing gear on the CF-18 was considered desirable - so I still think the F-35C would likely be a better fit.
 

Avimimus

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sferrin said:
I imagine, in the case of an extremely unlikely civil war in the US, Canada would be faced with an ocean of Democrats running over the border they'd have to deal with. ;)
The mid-west is pretty hard to defend though (especially if the enemy has air or armour superiority). But I agree... it'd mainly be east-coasters... so terrifying.

Adventurer104 said:
Civil war? War with US? Is there a concern about this with our brothers up there?
Not particularly. I know of some people who think that some type of internal armed conflict might happen in the next few decades or even a return to 'manifest destiny'. But they may just be misunderstanding how American politics works.

Historically it has been a bit of a concern. In the 19th century (long after the war of 1812) in the 1840s Polk era there was talk of annexation, and later there were numerous Fenian incursions from the United States. In the 1930s (War Plan Red) the possibility of an American invasion of Canada (in response to conflict with the British elsewhere in the world) including chemical bombing of cities was seen as a possibility, and even as late as the 1960s (e.g. during the Doctor's Strike and the FLQ crisis) there was fear that internal discord or election of left-leaning governments could lead to invasion.

However, it is the one plausible situation where we would face a land invasion. So, in terms of contingency planning and theoretically possible requirements it is an interesting example.
 

kaiserd

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I would suggest staying on topic and away from crazy at best tangential politically loaded “what if...” scenarios
 

sferrin

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Avimimus said:
I've read that the strengthened landing gear on the CF-18 was considered desirable - so I still think the F-35C would likely be a better fit.
Increased cost, complexity, and fuel requirements, with no additional range, all so you can have sturdier landing gear than you need? Doesn't make sense to me.
 

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kaiserd said:
I would suggest staying on topic and away from crazy at best tangential politically loaded “what if...” scenarios
Probably a very good idea! I just felt like discussing requirements which would favour the F-35.

I just find the subject of Canadian requirements, and alternative possible requirements, fascinating. For instance, I can see a situation where the HAL Tejas could be a suitable fit.

sferrin said:
Avimimus said:
I've read that the strengthened landing gear on the CF-18 was considered desirable - so I still think the F-35C would likely be a better fit.
Increased cost, complexity, and fuel requirements, with no additional range, all so you can have sturdier landing gear than you need? Doesn't make sense to me.
Are you arguing against the F-35? :D

Lower wing loading and a steeper descent is worth it if it shortens the landing roll... have you ever come north and tried driving on our ice?
 

LowObservable

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I can see a situation where the HAL Tejas could be a suitable fit.

Now you're just trying to wind us up.
 

sferrin

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Avimimus said:
Are you arguing against the F-35? :D
I said it was a poor reason to choose the F-35C over the F-35A. Not sure how you get anything else out of that.

Avimimus said:
Lower wing loading and a steeper descent is worth it if it shortens the landing roll... have you ever come north and tried driving on our ice?
I live in Utah. We get plenty of ice here thanks. 100% certain Utah ice is just as slick as Canadian ice. (That doesn't prevent them from operating F-16s and F-35s out of Hill AFB just fine.)
 

Dragon029

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Avimimus said:
I find the whole question of requirements quite interesting:

- The F-35A isn't a bad choice if the airforce is intended to act as auxiliaries to larger NATO deployments.

- It is poorly suited to operating in the Canadian Arctic due to the lack of arrester hook (the F-35C would be a better choice in this case), less than exceptional range, and dubious cold weather capabilities, and lack of a twin engined layout (something Canadians tend to be very ideological about). Super-cruise would be very useful in such an environment as well. The Arctic interceptor requirement would really be best filled by an aircraft with specifications matching the Mig-31 (aircraft designed around defending a larger northern area).

- The F-35B could be easily dispersed and would allow a quick counter-attack capability (especially if nuclear capable) in the case of a war with the United States (or Canada being attacked during a hypothetical American civil war). It could also do the tasks of the F-35A pretty well. Note: I'm not endorsing such a purchase or civil war by speculating about it - just doing what militaries always do - contingency planning.
As a side note; the F-35A does have an arrestor hook for airfield operations, just like the F-16, F-15, etc.

For range, I don't see how it wouldn't meet Canadian requirements; the official 1200nmi range figure is a considerably low-balled figure considering that the jet has an A2G combat radius of 669nmi and an A2A combat radius of 760nmi.

Cold weather capabilities should be fine as well; it doesn't have heaters on its engine stators, but they've been operating fine in Alaska, and if iced-over runways are a concern they can be fitted with drag chutes like Norway's F-35As.

Twin engine would be more desirable for bird strike resistance, but you're unlikely to have a bird strike outside of gliding distance of a runway anyway. Other forms of engine failure are pretty unlikely these days.

Supercruise would also be desirable, but it does eat into your range, plus the F-35 should be able to supercruise a bit better with the upcoming thrust enhancements from the F135 Growth Option 1 or adaptive cycle engines.

As for F-35Bs, ignoring the hypothetical war with the US, they probably wouldn't be ideal; their combat radius is diminished, maintenance requirements and costs increased, physical capabilities (transonic / supersonic acceleration, manoeuvring, etc) are diminished, etc. Distributed operations could be desirable in case of ballistic or cruise missile attacks on Canadian airbases, but you could probably do that with F-35As with the money for the construction of dual-purpose highways, etc coming from the F-35A / F-35B cost difference.
 

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First, I wanted to thank you guys for the info, there is stuff I didn't know. I find Dragon029's arguments particularly compelling.

LowObservable said:
I can see a situation where the HAL Tejas could be a suitable fit.

Now you're just trying to wind us up.
:) Maybe. But only because it is easy.

But I'm actually quite serious that the Tejas makes a lot of sense.

If you are willing to forgo range and twin-engined requirements it provides a lot of capabilities:

The aircraft can be operated off of short-strips. It can achieve the super-sonic speeds needed to intercept high-subsonic patrol aircraft or off-course airliners. It has sufficient air-to-ground capabilities to provide precision air-support during foreign operations. A military contract of that scale with India would also be politically useful. So basically, it could do everything that we'd ask the CF-35 to do at a lower price-point. A major goal for Canada is to maintain experience with operating an air-force in case we should ever need to seriously re-arm and it would accomplish that along with provide the basic air-to-ground role that the CF-188/CF-18 has most often been used for (at least since we stopped intercepting Tu-95s on a regular basis).
 

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Why can't Canada go in with Japan on the f-35/22 Hybrid. Both countries want the capability over
The f35. Canada needs a big twin engine fighter like Japan.

Either that, or make do with the Tejas or Gripen.
 

SpudmanWP

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Canada balked at the cost of the F-35. What do you think they would do with the Japanese where they would have to not only chip in for Dev, but also pay at least twice as much for each plane?
 

kcran567

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Canada was complaining about cost because they weren't getting what they really wanted or
They felt was appropriate to their needs.
If cost really is the true problem then Canada should be happy with an F-16V with
Conformal tanks or latest super hornet. Maybe even Tejas or Gripen.
Was just a suggestion about f-22/35 hybrid. Probably never happen.
 

kitnut617

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SpudmanWP said:
Canada balked at the cost of the F-35. What do you think they would do with the Japanese where they would have to not only chip in for Dev, but also pay at least twice as much for each plane?
The present Canadian Government balked ----- but they hit a snag. They found out that Canada already produces parts for the program and would lose that capability if they withdrew. Reason why the PM is sitting on the pot (pun intended) for so long (only campaign promise he's kept so far is making pot legal). My thoughts mingle with the F-35 News Only thread, dump Turkey, and move everything to Canada.
 

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It is a bit more complicated.

As I understand it we bought into the program early on in order to ensure subcontracting opportunities for Canadian companies. However, we were a minor partner and had no say in the design specification.

A few governments later the Conservatives decided to replace the CF-18/188 fleet with the CF-35. They bungled selling this decision to the public by not having the airforce prepare a requirement, giving or the appearance of an open competition. They also massively understated the costs while deciding to fund it partly by cutting the replacement of our Search and Rescue capability (even going so far as to claim that the CF-35 could act as a search and rescue aircraft at one point). This seemed suspect and provided an opportunity for opposition to build.

In a later election the competing Liberal government promised to cancel the purchase until a competition had been run, but then quickly settled on the slightly cheaper Super-Hornet (nominally as an interim purchase). However, Boeing decided that attempting to suppress competition from the Bombardier C-series civil jet was a higher priority than the Super-Hornet contract, forcing the Canadian government to make good on its threat to cancel it.
 

LowObservable

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Kitnut - To be fair, you should cite the counter-argument, which is that any other fighter would come with a fat package of industrial participation and offsets, whereas F-35 work is subject to re-competition and the primes beating you up on margins.

Avivimus - Looking back, it seems to me that (like many naive stakeholders and commentators) the Harper government made the mistake of believing in the official schedule as it stood at the end of 2009. When the wheels came off in early 2010 (program director fired, replacement finds that all the projections are happy horse**** on an Augean scale) they panicked and tried to engineer a sole-source procurement.

That was the start of all Canada's fighter-procurement problems, now further complicated by the Boeing-Bombardier snafu and Trump's declaration of trade war. In many ways one can't blame Trudeau for kicking as many cans down the road as possible, while waiting for the mid-terms and 2020.
 

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LowObservable said:
any other fighter would come with a fat package of industrial participation and offsets
Exactly what participation/offsets would those be and for how long? If you look at the fact that no matter which platform Canada selects it is likely to result in a total acquisition of around 80 - 100 at most (remember that currently there are only around 70 CF-188s in service and this will not increase even with the bringing on of the ex-RAAF F/A-18s). Therefore,even if Canadian industry was to get a super attractive in-country assembly package including licensed manufacture of components for other users (presumably all future export sales since existing users already have their work done/locked up, the deal is likely to be a short term one with limited growth prospects. if you look at the potential contenders

  • Super Hornet - Whilst there are something like 500-600 around it is unlikely to see many further sales beyond USN. RAAF certainly doesn't plan on any more. Kuwait is getting some but those will be inservice by the time Canada make up its mind. Even if you include all the other near term buyers of fighters as candidates (meaning Boeing had better do some great deals), all those likely contenders will also be looking for industrial participations as well (you can't keep selling the same cake over and over);
  • Rafale - At most, currently something like 400 already ordered. Again though, mostly already done with most export opportunities likely to be done and dusted before Canada gets around to anything. Again, expect other potential candidates for exports to also want industrial participation packages;
  • Typhoon - A bit over 600 already ordered/delivered. Ditto above re the future opportunities;
  • Gripen - 200 - 300 delivered/ordered. Ditto above re the future opportunities - even if Sweden (as the biggest user) decided to totally replace all the earlier in-service versions with the E/F versions this would only likely increase the numbers by around 100 (and in doing so would probably dump all the older ones on the market);
  • F-16 - Sure, lots out there now (4500+) but really? You really think this would offer Canada much after all of these years?
  • F-15E - ditto the last; and
  • Su-27/30/35 family - fat chance Canada will go that way even if the price was right.

Note - I don't include such jokes as the Tejas. Including a Chinese or Russian fighter would be more likely than the Tejas.

Alternatively, looking at the F-35, even if Canada was to get a lower industrial participation portion per plane the fact remains that there are still some 2500 aircraft yet to be produced and supported. Moreover, production is due to continue until at least the 2040s and the aircraft needing sustainment well after that.

At the end of the day, even if Canada were to get a fantastic deal on the participation of any F-35 alternate, it would most likely be tied to the size of the order they place and only be for a relatively short time (3 - 5yrs). Even then the opportunity offered by being a partner in the F-35 program will outweigh that many, many times over and for far longer.
 

LowObservable

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You're overlooking the very obvious fact that three of the potential competitors are aerospace companies with broad aircraft business bases. Airbus is already deeply connected to Canada's industry. Dassault is one of the Canadian aerospace industry's largest export customers, and just became larger with the selection of the PW812 for the Falcon 6X. Boeing is the same, as long as management cares enough to mend fences with Canada. Offsets can extend well beyond the fighter program. LM, on the other hand, doesn't have much to offer beyond/outside F-35, and isn't in full control of that work.
 

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LowObservable said:
LM, on the other hand, doesn't have much to offer beyond/outside F-35, and isn't in full control of that work.
Wouldn't they just make concessions on the support contracts for the old frigates,
their seemingly inevitable win on the new frigates, CC-130J and Cyclone?
 

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With the South Korean deal, they threw in a satellite.
 

LowObservable

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SpudmanWP said:
With the South Korean deal, they threw in a satellite.
That was how they bought their way into a competition they had otherwise lost?
 

SpudmanWP

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No, that's how they satisfied the offsets.

You seemed to forget that the Military wanted a 5th gen platform and other members of the Gov "dumbed down" the contest to get others in without having a 5th gen design. Good thing that the military had the option to override the idiot bean counters.
 

LowObservable

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The ROK procurement process was reasonably transparent. The military made its requirements known via DAPA, which made a decision according to the agreed rules. The decision was overruled at a higher political level.

If you have a different story to tell, please do so and provide evidence,
 

SpudmanWP

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The bean counters may have agreed, but the people who's lives agreed upon the decision did not. The fact that they went with the F-35 is proof of that. DAPA was there to "suggest" what can be bought for a certain amount, not to determine what was the best fighter for the price or mission.
 

Kadija_Man

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SpudmanWP said:
The bean counters may have agreed, but the people who's lives agreed upon the decision did not. The fact that they went with the F-35 is proof of that. DAPA was there to "suggest" what can be bought for a certain amount, not to determine what was the best fighter for the price or mission.
Yet you make no alternative suggestion, I note.

What viable alternative is available to the F-35?

Those that continually criticise the F-35 rarely put forward viable alternatives which have the same features of the F-35. Funny that.
 

LowObservable

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DAPA was there to "suggest" what can be bought for a certain amount, not to determine what was the best fighter for the price or mission.

Nope. DAPA was the source selection authority, based on the F-X Phase III requirement and budget set by the ROKAF, and issues and manages all acquisition contracts. So while the term "bean counters" is silly enough as it is (do you think Marillyn Hewson gets Billie Flynn to do her taxes?) it's inapplicable to DAPA. DAPA's decision could not be changed from on high, but was subject to approval or rejection by a the cross-government Defense Acquisition Program Executive Committee (Dapec).

And of course, the president of that Korean government was just tossed in the slammer for 24 years on charges that included bribery. That doesn't mean anything was hinky in the JSF deal but it doesn't indicate sound decision-making.
 

SpudmanWP

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Kadija_Man said:
What viable alternative is available to the F-35?
For a short time Boeing tried the F-15SE (only claimed front aspect VLO and only for a short time), but they determined that they could not do it and keep costs down so they convinced DAPA to lower the standards.. Funny that B)
 

LowObservable

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Really? When did the F-X Phase III spec change? Sources?
 

SpudmanWP

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Seriously??? Try Google

Korea drops key stealth requirements
Seoul has decided to remove two key compulsory requirements initially set for 60 advanced fighter jets that it plans to purchase in an attempt to allow more companies to enter the competition for the nation’s largest-ever arms deal.
https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2012/01/116_102739.html
 

Avimimus

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Kadija_Man said:
SpudmanWP said:
The bean counters may have agreed, but the people who's lives agreed upon the decision did not. The fact that they went with the F-35 is proof of that. DAPA was there to "suggest" what can be bought for a certain amount, not to determine what was the best fighter for the price or mission.
Yet you make no alternative suggestion, I note.

What viable alternative is available to the F-35?

Those that continually criticise the F-35 rarely put forward viable alternatives which have the same features of the F-35. Funny that.
It depends on the requirement doesn't it?

Most of the Euro-canards have adequate short-field and performance, along with multi-role capabilities. The Tejas lacks range and twin-engined performance but could meet most requirements, as could a lot of existing 4th gen fighters.

The F-35 has... greater stealth (providing some improved resistance to third generation SAMs...), as some nice on-board systems (but not essential ones), and the benefit of being an American product (if we value favouring American deals over currying favour with European powers or India).

There is some debate over whether low-observability or supersonic manoeuvrability will be key in dealing with the next generation of SAMs and there has been a trend towards stand-off weapons in any case. What other advantages does it have over 4+ generation types? Enlighten me.
 
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