Skip to comments.Canada scraps F-35 purchase as audit puts true cost past $30B
Posted on 12/06/2012 10:15:51 PM PST by JerseyanExile
The F-35 jet fighter purchase, the most persistent thorn in the Harper governments side and the subject of a devastating auditor-generals report last spring, is dead.
Faced with the imminent release of an audit by accountants KPMG that will push the total projected life-cycle costs of the aircraft above $30-billion, the operations committee of cabinet decided Tuesday evening to scrap the controversial sole-source program and go back to the drawing board, a source familiar with the decision said.
This occurred after Chief of the Defence Staff Thomas Lawson, while en route overseas, was called back urgently to appear before the committee, the source said.
The decision is sure to have ripple effects around the world, as any reduction in the number of aircraft on order causes the price to go up for all the other buyers. Canada is one of nine F-35 consortium members, including the United States.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay is not a member of the cabinet operations committee. It remains unclear whether he was present at the meeting Tuesday. However, MacKay is a member of the cabinet Priorities and Planning committee, which is to discuss the F-35 decision Friday morning.
The F-18s currently flown by the RCAF are at the tail end of their life cycle and are not expected to be operable much beyond 2020, at the outside.
Last spring, Auditor-General Michael Ferguson ignited a political firestorm when he reported that the top-line cost cited by the Conservatives in the 2011 election campaign $9-billion for 65 planes, or $15-billion including maintenance and other life-cycle costs was $10-billion below the Defence departments internal estimate.
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CF-15S in their future?
The Canadians were not all that thrilled about that overhyped moonpig F-35 anyway. They really prefer not to use a single engine jet out over the remote arctic north.
Nobody is buying F-35s unless we practically beg them. Especially anyone who might need to face a Suhkoi. The F-15 Silent Eagle is a MUCH better and useful machine.
Probably a Eurojet of some kind.
The F-35 was beyond anything Canada could ever need, considering that we aren’t a leading military country, but more like a supporting role.
I’ve been telling people here on FR for over a year that the cost of the F-35 was too high. Now with Canada backing down, the cost for other nations will go up rather sharply, which means that more partners will back out of the project.
Might as well save time and money and kill it now.
I bet it’s expensive because that’s finally something that’s not made in China!
Kidding aside, could you imagine buying one plane for this much money, and then have it crash during a training run? This plane is just too expensive. Only a company getting money from the government would develop such a plane...
F-15E Silent Eagle destroys the F-35. Twice the power for about the same weight. Half the wing loading of an F-35. Carries more weapons. Proven design, at about 100 million a copy. F-35 procurement cost was 133 million a plane in 2011 and climbing faster than the plane ever could.
It’s an embarrassment that the best two fighters we can build today are the “Super” Hornet, and the F-35. We killed the F-22 before we bought enough for our needs over it’s lifespan. We wouldn’t sell them to Japan, Israel, or Australia. We always tried to push them to the fat single engine little brother.
And Stealth f-15 can hit Mach 2.5+. F35 is Mach 1.6.
Not unexpected. The F-35 was, IMHAGO (humble armchair general opinion), just expected to fulfill too many roles and meet the demands of too many different military branches to have turned out to be anything but an expensive mess of a design. No one plane can be all things to all branches, so they keep spending money in hopes of making a wunderplane that will be all things to all customers.
I’m also wondering if the F-35B variant (i.e. the S/TOVL version) isn’t the biggest gremlin in the project. The Air Force and Naval variants obviously would have some important differences (carrier landing capability for one!), but I have to think trying to adding a Harrier-like capability to a plane that otherwise would be traditional takeoff and landing would add a lot of headaches to the blueprints, so to speak. Again in my amateur opinion.
It’s also entirely possible that the F-35 was also a distraction from other military projects, which may be why this plane was so expensive in the first place.
I think alot of military industries have become like government department, bloated and expensive, which is why everything they make just get more and more expensive. Think about it, $100+ million for one fighter jet?!?! Seriously?!
Leaving the US with no advanced aircraft and our enemies with a huge lead. Brilliant! (The F-22 has already been canned, and the new Chinese Raptor clone can probably savage our 15s, 16s, and 18s.)
It isn’t my fault that the F-22 was canned. Whether the F-22 was stopped or not, the fact remains that the F-35 project is over-budget, behind schedule, losing partner support and is tasked with serving too many roles to excel at any of them.
We learned nothing from the F-111 program.
True Dat !!
This is the fighter for Canada, IMHO, SAAB, GRIPEN:
time to get away from the “whiz kid” thinking of the kennedy presidency..
attack aircraft attack..
transport aircraft transport..
ground support aircraft support ground operations..
what the hell is so difficult to understand?
this is like the k-mart model... by trying to offer everything, they actually succeed in offering nothing..
Just take a look at this and you will see what this jet is about, amazing flexibility and STOL characteristics, and remote deployment. This AC can deploy on dirt strips if necessary.
Also Canada would do well to have 3 squadrons of warthogs improved to cold weather operational standards in addition to the Gripen, and the Canadian Government easily afford 500 Gripen over 10 years, and build them all right in Canada at a Bombardier or Dehaviland plant.
(Screw Obama and his union running dogs who seek to sell break down F-35s abroad. That POS is not be trusted at all.)
Before Hillaker could say a word, Boyd made a head-on attack. The first words out of his mouth were, "My name is John Boyd and I'm a fighter pilot and I understand you work on the F-111 and what I want to know is why you guys built a [bleep] eighty-five-thousand-pound airplane and called it a fighter."
"It's a fighter-bomber," Hillaker said, somewhat taken aback.
Boyd poked Hillaker in the chest three or four times, took a puff off his cigar, and said, "Yeah, well last time I looked, an 'F' in front of an airplane meant it was a fighter. That thing is a piece of [bleep]. It's too big to be a fighter and that [bleep] little wing it's got, it must take two states to turn around. I'll tell you something else. The pilot can't see behind him and he can't see out the right window. He has to depend on his copilot to tell him what's out there.
Hillaker gritted his teeth. The project manager for the F-111 did not have to listen to this from a loudmouthed fighter pilot. Before he could reply, Boyd was off again.
"It's too [bleep] big, too [bleep] expensive, too [bleep] underpowered. It's just not worth a good [bleep]." He moved closer to Hillaker. His voice rose. "How much extra weight does that swing wing add to the airplane? Twenty percent?"
Boyd didn't wait for an answer. He poked Hillaker in the chest again. "The entire weight of the wing goes through that pivot pin and you hide it all in that big glove. You'll be getting stress cracks in that [bleep] before it's got five hundred hours on it. And the amount of drag you've created is aerodynamic [bleep]. That pivot adds weight and degrades performance, plus you can't sweep the wing back fast enough in combat to make a difference. The low-speed performance is lousy, the high-speed performance is worse, and the [bleep] thing won't maneuver."
Hillaker stared at Boyd. Fighter pilots usually talk in generalities when they criticize an airplane; they say it is a "pig"...but they don't know enough to hone in on design specifics. Thus, Hillaker was more than a little shocked to hear the loudmouthed fighter pilot ask about the things that were only beginning to be whispered about in the back rooms of General Dynamics.
Boyd: The fighter pilot who changed the art of war. Coram, Robert. 2002.
The same bastard that brought Ford the Edsel and the US Army the M-151 Widow-Maker 1/4-ton truck, made by Ford and selected after Willys won the competition with the CJ-5.
Domocrat and Corruption isn't a new thing, kids!
Time for the CAF to upgrade to the Super Hornet, F-18E/F. Their logistics support is established for the Hornet, so the upgrade makes sense. The USN has operated both types side by side as they transitioned from F-18C/D Hornets to E/F super Hornets.
I did a Med cruise on LPH-12 the USS Inchon, it was the last ship of the Iwo Jima class. It was built from the hull, boilers and elevators of the USS Boxer from WW II. It was a McNamara special, it had a single screw and above 12 to 14 kts you could tell how fast you were going by how much it vibrated.
Tell Canada to hang in there or no more F-18 parts.
The F-111 was one of the overview studies we had in engineering school of “engineers gone wild” and “second system effect.” We were told to “learn from this project, because the result was a financial fiasco - if you do this in the private sector, you’ll end your company.” The nut of the lesson was “keep your requirements within reach and realistic. No system can be everything to everyone.”
The F-35 violates this very simple rule of successful large-system engineering in so many ways, it’s not even remotely funny. Multiple roles, multiple engines, multiple nations... it’s absolutely certain that this thing will go over budget, over schedule, have horrendous life cycle costs.
The F-111 mess started with Robert Strange McNamara and his numbers boys thinking that they could reduce costs by making a multi-role aircraft - fighter, bomber, Air Force and Navy.
There was actually a notion that they could land a F-111 on a carrier early in the project.
The weight of the design increased steadily until the Navy had to put a stop to the foolish idea that this thing was going to land and trap on a carrier and the USN went off in pursuit of the F-14.
The F-111 was also a multi-nation debacle, and I think the Aussies are still fielding the F-111 after all these years. The planes became maintenance pigs due to their complexity, and that’s a big chunk of the lifecycle cost of an aircraft.
As for Boyd: He was anything but a dumb fighter jock.
I have been saying that for years. Why would we buy an aircraft still in development to replace an aircraft so close to it’s best before date? There is much wrong with the F35 (single engine, etc) for Canada. By the time they roll off the assembly line (if ever), the Russians or whoever will have figured out how to beat the stealth thing. We should have bought a boatload of Super Hornets 5 years ago. We would have been transitioning them into our fleet now.
The Grippen is a good fit for Canada:
re the Grippen
I’m no expert, but the fist thing I saw was the single engine. Our guys spend a lot of time patrolling the Arctic. I don’t think I’d want to be hundreds of miles from anyone or anything when my ONE engine develops a problem.
The notion was correct.
The F-111B wasn’t really designed to be a “fighter”. It was designed to be an interceptor - go out far from the carrier at great speed and shoot down enemy aircraft with long-range missiles.
As such it wasn’t designed to be maneuverable and had a high degree of “heads-down” workload for the pilot an RIO.
It grew out of a USN legacy that went back to the F3D Skynight (USN nightfighter with a side-by-side cockpit arrangement that proved semi-successful when used by the Marines as an F7F-N Replacement) and replaced, conceptually, an F3D derivative called the F6D Missileer.
What happened was that Vietnam intervened and showed that it was better to develop a “fighter” with good air combat maneuvering that could be used as an “interceptor” than to try to make an “interceptor” perform as a “fighter. This is what ended the F-111B, relegated the USAF F-111 variants to a medium strike/interdiction platform (a very, very good one, if expensive) and led to the development of the F-14 and F-15.
Two additional side notes: the USAF interceptor families (the F-102, F-106, etc) sucked at ACM as well. The proposed “ultimate” interceptors - the F-108 and YF-12 (which was a member of the A-12/SR-71 Blackbird Family) would have sucked as well too. But the mission for them was to go up north as fast as possible and shoot missiles into the Soviet bomber streams coming over the Pole. Not get into a firball.
Second, I’ve always maintained that the F-111B would have made a wonderful A-6 replacement in the USN medium-strike role.
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