Canada May Back Out of F-35 Purchase: Minister

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SpudmanWP

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Unread post22 Jan 2013, 17:43

Considering that Raytheon & Boeing cannot even get the APG-79 (the most IMPORTANT sensor in a fighter) working right 6 years after the radar's IOC, I would not put too much faith in their claims of performance.
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neurotech

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Unread post22 Jan 2013, 19:26

SpudmanWP wrote:Considering that Raytheon & Boeing cannot even get the APG-79 (the most IMPORTANT sensor in a fighter) working right 6 years after the radar's IOC, I would not put too much faith in their claims of performance.

Care to be more specific?

Last time I checked, the APG-79 works fine, but needed some tweaking to work properly in the EA-18G, while ALQ-99s are active.

More advanced features of the F/A-18E/F(BR) Block III are still being developed, but the baseline Block II is working pretty well for the USN.
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Unread post22 Jan 2013, 19:33

n/a damn posting error
Last edited by SpudmanWP on 22 Jan 2013, 19:48, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post22 Jan 2013, 19:34

n/a damn posting error
Last edited by SpudmanWP on 22 Jan 2013, 19:48, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post22 Jan 2013, 19:36

n/a damn posting error
Last edited by SpudmanWP on 22 Jan 2013, 19:48, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post22 Jan 2013, 19:45

This is from the most recent DOT&E report (Keep in mind that the -79 has been operational for over 5 years).

Executive Summary
• The APG-79 AESA radar provides improved performance relative to the legacy APG-73 radar; however, operational testing did not demonstrate a statistically significant difference in mission accomplishment between F/A-18E/F aircraft equipped with AESA and those equipped with the legacy radar.
• While SCSs H6E and 23X demonstrate acceptable suitability, the AESA radar's reliability continues to suffer from software instability. The radar's failure to meet reliability requirements and poor built-in test (BIT) performance remain as shortfalls from previous test and evaluation periods.
• Overall, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet weapon system is operationally effective and suitable for most threat environments. However, the platform is not operationally effective for use in certain threat environments, the specifics of which are addressed in the DOT&E FY12 classified report

Activity
• DOT&E reported on APG-79 radar IOT&E in FY07, assessing it as not operationally effective or suitable due to significant deficiencies in tactical performance, reliability, and BIT functionality.
• The Navy conducted APG-79 radar FOT&E in FY09 in conjunction with SCS H4E SQT. The Navy's Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force subsequently reported that significant deficiencies remained for both APG-79 AESA performance and suitability; DOT&E concurred with this assessment.
• Concurrent with SQT for SCSs H6E and 23X, the Navy conducted a second APG-79 radar FOT&E period in FY11. The Navy conducted the testing in accordance with the DOT&E-approved Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) and test plan. DOT&E issued a classified report on this testing in FY12; finding that the Super Hornet made incremental improvements, but still retained important deficiencies.

Assessment
• The APG-79 AESA radar demonstrated marginal improvements since the previous FOT&E period and provides improved performance relative to the legacy APG-73 radar. However, operational testing does not demonstrate a statistically significant difference in mission accomplishment between F/A-18E/F aircraft equipped with AESA and those equipped with the legacy radar.
• Full development of AESA electronic warfare capability remains deferred to later software builds

Recommendations
• Status of Previous Recommendations.
-- The Navy made minimal progress addressing FY11 F/A?18E/F recommendations. Recommendations to continue to improve APG-79 AESA reliability and BIT functionality, to conduct an operationally representative end-to-end missile shot to demonstrate APG-79 radar and current SCS ability to support multi-AIM-120 engagement, and to develop and characterize the APG-79 AESA's full electronic warfare capability remain valid.
-- The Navy satisfactorily addressed three of seven FY11 EA-18G recommendations. Recommendations to improve aircraft maintainability and BIT software maturity, to improve ALQ-218 and ALQ-99 maintenance documentation and diagnostic tools, and to assess the need for a more capable threat range at Whidbey Island, Washington, remain valid.


This from a radar that is 6 years after IOC.

http://www.dote.osd.mil/pub/reports/FY2 ... fa18ef.pdf

I would not call that "working pretty well" if it's no better than the APG-73 MSA.
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Unread post22 Jan 2013, 23:04

@SpudmanWP: Basically the translation is that "give us more $$ for more software upgrades and flight testing". I've never seen an OT&E report that didn't have a few "issues" outstanding. As for "mission accomplishment", I think that is slightly misleading. OT&E reports tend to focus on service internals, and MTBF, and skipping over how long it takes for required servicing. APG-73 radar wasn't exactly unreliable, so saying the APG-79 is not significantly more reliable isn't accurate. APG-73 did require some "routine" maintenance to the array, that isn't needed by the APG-79.
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Unread post22 Jan 2013, 23:33

There is a spec and it has not met it 6 years after IOC.

How is that that hard to understand?
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Unread post23 Jan 2013, 04:07

Discussing this issue with individuals more familiar with the CF-18 fleet's status than I am, going past 2020 isn't a major issue. Fleet life estimates are doing fairly well at this point, and they can further increase it by curtailing training or operational flights in some areas.

One key point however is that Canada will face an operational limitations once it decides on a replacement and goes through the process, regardless of the choice. With limited number of flight and ground crews available, our ability to maintain current operational readiness while they transition will be compromised. IT might make sense to just officially declare that the CF can't do expeditionary ops from 2018 to 2020 and plan that out. The army has done that before (2001~2002 operational "pause") and that would be an official acknowledgement for the benefit of planning in this case.


HB,

Thank you for your comments on my post. I think you and I disagree on the pitfalls of concurrency. With regards to the state of the CF-18 in the 2018 - 2020 timeframe and your recommendation that the RCAF limit expeditionary deployments, or minimize training or flying, I offer the following: The CF-18 will be severely limited in capability unless it is updated, not deploying will not be a choice, it'll be a necessity. The fighter force will not be able to further reduce training over a two year period, this would dramatically strain a force which is struggling to maintain capability, proficiency and experience. I don't see any easy options.
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Unread post23 Jan 2013, 04:25

neurotech wrote:
SpudmanWP wrote:Considering that Raytheon & Boeing cannot even get the APG-79 (the most IMPORTANT sensor in a fighter) working right 6 years after the radar's IOC, I would not put too much faith in their claims of performance.

Care to be more specific?

Last time I checked, the APG-79 works fine, but needed some tweaking to work properly in the EA-18G, while ALQ-99s are active.

More advanced features of the F/A-18E/F(BR) Block III are still being developed, but the baseline Block II is working pretty well for the USN.


They have been refining the software incrementally, but still have some software issues that continue to be deferred - (probably requiring some hardware upgrades - $$.) The radar works well enough. Its SAR imagery is phenomenal.
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Unread post23 Jan 2013, 05:35

That's interesting reporting on the status of the APG-79 set's development, Spud, thanks.

It would definitely seem as if the many times common practice with respect to the Services and DoD in general, is to often drag along slower than originally anticipated, vis-a-vis achieving such 'incremental' upgrade Program maturity and achieving the envisioned higher-capability operational maturity, etc.

Perhaps the 'urgency' to sufficiently upgrade (and eg, to sufficiently fund), innovate and to achieve such capability upgrade maturity is indeed not up to par and should/could thus be adjusted appropriately as part of a wider Defense acquisition and modernization strategy reform.

Perhaps too, there are at times some true technical and schedule issues involved in the equation (eg, waiting for new hardware to support new software capabilities, etc) whereas the actual Program's impetus to update and upgrade is present and in holding.

The critical need for constant and robust innovation at the existing systems upgrade level will of course always be key and imperative, and not just reserved as a priority for some new major league game-changing platform Program acquisition.

That said, it will be interesting to hear eventual reports of the status and evaluations of F-18E/F/G's next-gen Type IV computer upgrade Program eg, (being integrated on FY13 SH procurement orders(?), FY14 F-18E/F/G(?)) as well as the next-gen software update effectiveness, which are reportedly sought for the Super Hornet's next-gen weapon system capabilities.

It's probably a fair guesstimate though (hopefully), to say that by the time a mature block III F-35 achieving IOC rolls around, for example, that there will be next-gen weapon system, fusion and EW-enhanced capabilities operating more effectively on an F-18E/F/G block level upgrade, than currently on the Super Hornet fleet.
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Unread post23 Jan 2013, 18:44

Looks like a BLOG series worth reading when available (first post not about F-35 but will be).

Replacing the CF18: Part I – The F/A-18E Super Hornet By Richard Shimooka CDA Institute on Thursday, 17 January 2013

http://cda-cdai.ca/cdai/en/blog/entry/r ... per-hornet

"The replacement of the Canadian military’s fleet of CF-18 fighter aircraft is not only one of the key issues facing the Canadian Forces, but a decision that will shape Canada’s military and defence policy for years to come.

Over the coming weeks, the CDA Institute will be posting to this blog a series of commentaries written by Richard Shimooka, which will provide his perspective on the issues at stake with each of the major contenders to replace the CF-18.

We start this series with a discussion on the F/A-18E Super Hornet...."
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Unread post23 Jan 2013, 18:58

spazsinbad wrote:Looks like a BLOG series worth reading when available (first post not about F-35 but will be).

Replacing the CF18: Part I – The F/A-18E Super Hornet By Richard Shimooka CDA Institute on Thursday, 17 January 2013
..
We start this series with a discussion on the F/A-18E Super Hornet...."

The Super Hornet could be made operationally stealthy with LO weapons pods/tanks or CFT/CWBs. The RCS of a clean F/A-18E/F is quite definitely in the LO range, but not quite F-35 level. Current LO pylons are operational, but the stores to go on them are not LO by any means.
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Unread post26 Jan 2013, 12:31

F-18s cost the RAAF $3.1b for 24 (2007 prices). That translates into $8.4b for 65. However $9b is too much? $9b at todays prices is under 1.5% inflation of 2007 price. The RAAF also went for the -F variant which requires 2 crew (rather than 1 for the F-35). Wouldn't that like increase the cost far more? From a capability gap standpoint, it makes sense for the RAAF to procure F-18s in the interim.

Just wondering what the Canadian media (and Government) is thinking.
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Unread post26 Jan 2013, 12:58

Why are not other costs included as per?

Australia Buying 24 Super Hornets As Interim Gap-Fillers Dec 26, 2012 by Defense Industry Daily staff

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/aus ... jsf-02898/

"Australia’s Super Hornet purchase began life in a storm. Australia’s involvement in the F-35 Lightning II program has been mired in controversy, amid criticisms that the F-35A will (1) be unable to compete with proliferating SU-30 family fighters in the region, (2) lack the range or response time that Australia requires, and (3) be both late and very expensive during early production years. The accelerated retirement of Australia’s 22 long-range F-111s in 2010 sharpened the timing debate, by creating a serious gap between the F-111's retirement and the F-35's likely arrival.

In December 2006, therefore, The Australian [newspaper] reported that Defence Minister Brendan Nelson was discussing an A$ 3 billion (about $2.36 billion) purchase of 24 F/A-18F Block II Super Hornet aircraft to fill the fighter gap. The move came as “a surprise to senior defence officials on Russell Hill”; but quickly became an official purchase as requests and contracts were hurriedly submitted. Australia’s new Labor government later decided to keep the Super Hornet purchase, rather than pay cancellation fees, but added an interesting option to convert 12 into electronic warfare planes. Ministerial statements place the program’s final figure at A$ 6.6 – 7.0 billion, which includes basing, training, and other ancillary costs...."
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