MP Laurie Hawn on the F-35

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alloycowboy

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Unread post11 Mar 2011, 18:28

Good Day!

The following is a copy of an email reply I recieved from the Honourable
Canada Laurie Hawn. Laurie is an elected member of the House of Commons of Canada and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.

Laurie is also a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Forces Air Command. During his flying career Laurie flew the T-33 Silver Star as an Instructor Pilot and the CF-104 Star Fighter and CF-18 as a Tactical Fighter Pilot and Instructor Pilot.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurie_Hawn
http://www.lauriehawnmp.ca/


Here is the copy of the letter from the Honourable Minster:


There is a lot of misinformation out there about the F-35 program. This is going to be long, but it’s important that you have the whole story. This is the biggest military program in our history as was the NFA program back in its day. Some of the same type of people are saying some of the same things now that they were saying 30 years ago.

The concept of ops for the CF-18 was to operate the aircraft for phase-in plus 15 years, at which time we would be in the process of acquiring our next fighter. That would put that action at 2003. It made perfect sense for the Liberals to sign onto the JSF MOU in 1997 and to up the ante in 2001. We upped it again in 2006 and made the formal decision to acquire the F-35 under the MOU in July 2010. For the Liberals to say now that they had no intention of buying the aircraft is absolute nonsense. We are buying an aircraft to fly until at least 2050.

Let's take process first. We've had subject matter experts, military and civilian, studying the JSF programs and other options for years at a very highly classified level. We have highly experienced fighter pilots and engineerson the military side, many of whom I have known for decades. On the civilian side, we've got people like BGen (ret) Dan Ross, ADM (Mat) for the past five years and a guy who has helped reduce acquisition times from over 100 months to less than 50 months. We also have a guy named Mike Slack, who has been exclusively involved with JSF for close to ten years, and who knows the nonsense that former ADM (Mat) Alan Williams is spreading. We initially looked at F-22, F-35, F-18E/F, Typhoon, Gripen and Rafale. F-22 was eliminated right away, because it would not be for sale to anyone other than the U.S. After analysis, the Gripen and Rafale were eliminated as not having any performance advantage over our current CF-18. A more extensive evaluation of the F-35, F-18E/F and Typhoon was conducted. The conclusion was that the F-35 is the only aircraft that meets the mandatory high level capabilities and the more specific operational requirements, and at the best cost with the best industrial opportunities. The same process was followed in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Italy, and Turkey within the MOU. Israel is on board outside the MOU and Japan, South Korea and others are poised to follow suit. There is a definite trend here and maybe we should listen to our own subject matter experts and all these people from so many countries

Comparisons done by others, such as Wg Cdr Mills, RAAF, have one major flaw. They are based on 3rd or 4th generation fighter knowledge and very limited understanding of the real difference to 5th generation capability. There is a very limited number of people anywhere who are fully read-in to the classified details and capabilities of the F-35. I'm not one of them (and I guarantee Mills isn't either), but I know what I don't know. Also, my only agenda and that of the CF and other militaries is to get the best piece of kit for our folks. So, my question to Mills and others would be "How do you know?" and "What is your agenda?”. Despite their lack of truly current information, Mills and another guy named Peter Goon seem to have found a receptive audience in other parts of the world, whose agenda may also be different than ours.

The F-35 is not a turn-and-burn king (dog fighter) compared to pure air superiority fighters, like the F-22 and some of the new Russian aircraft. It is on par with the Hornet, but becomes clearly superior with 5th generation technology. That has proven out in various simulator exercises and we have had a number of current CF-18 pilots involved. The other basic question is, is it superior to available 4th generation fighters. To a remarkable degree the answer is yes. In basic areas of range, endurance, payload, turn, etc., the F-35 is at least equal to the other options. In other more high-tech areas related to 5th generation unique capabilities, there is no comparison. One of our handicaps is that we can’t explain all the reasons why, because of the very highly classified nature of some of the information. One of the bottom lines is that we don’t want an aircraft at the end of its development cycle and at the end of its production. We want one that is at the start of its development cycle and one that will be in production for at least the next 25 years.

Let’s talk about interoperability. We had problems in Kosovo because our Hornets lacked the communications necessary to be part of many packages. Our allies had to be dumbed down, so that we could play. It is more than radios and data-link, when we talk about interoperability between 4th and 5th generation aircraft. If you have a package of F-35s with a package of CF-18E/F tagging along, we would stick out to enemy defences like a sore thumb and endanger the whole package. We would be relegated to decoy status and soak up a lot of unfriendly stuff. Without going into exact numbers, an F-35 can kill a CF-18 at many times the range that the CF-18 will even see the F-35.

The Super Hornet production line closes in 2014 and the USN will retire the aircraft by 2025. We would be on our own after that and any software upgrades, system changes, R&D, test and evaluation, etc. would be on our hook for our fleet of 65 aircraft. That’s not very cost effective. The U.S. Government makes the decision on when to shut down the production line and a big chunk of the equipment is owned by them. The only way that the production could continue is with more off-shore sales. That doesn’t appear to be happening and we would still be orphaned after 2025. Boeing will cite the Aussies buying 24 Super Hornets (at a hefty price). The Aussies are very clear that those aircraft are a ten-year bridge from the F-111 to the F-35.

Many people express concern about the single-engine configuration, and I was one of those. When I took a closer look at current engine technology, I was satisfied that the risk is very well mitigated by new materials, blade and engine design, and the level of redundancy. You can throw a lot of stuff down the intake and it will be spit out by the very thick and tough blades and the high by-pass. We should also remember that trans-oceanic commercial flights were restricted to four-engine aircraft. Now two engines is the norm.

Let's look at cost. If we translate the $16,090,000 that we paid for each CF-18 in 1980 dollars to 2016, they would then cost $63 million. Our price for the F-35 will be between $70 - $75 million, for a quantum increase in capability. That's not bad. You hear a lot about cost escalation and there is truth to that, as there is for any leading edge technology program. The cost-per-jet numbers you're hearing are the progressive average cost of the early aircraft, the very first of which cost $249 million. We are buying our aircraft starting in 2015 / 2016 at the peak of production and lowest cost. You may have heard that Norway has delayed their acquisition. That was done to follow our example and get the aircraft at the cost sweet spot of the production cycle. Despite all their economic woes, the U.K. is continuing their program to acquire F-35s. The U.S. Government is underwriting any increase in R&D costs and the program is outperforming current cost curve projections. The Congressional oversight that is being exercised in the U.S. is good news for us and other members of the MOU. It’s about the reporting system in place at Lockheed Martin, not the aircraft itself. There is automatic triggering of Congressional measures at certain levels. That is based on forecast costs and does not take into account the very high costs of the early aircraft. Nevertheless, this process does put pressure on Lockheed Martin and that is good for all of us.

Let's look at the breakdown of the $16 billion you hear quoted. About $5.5 billion is for the aircraft. About $3.5 billion is for simulators, training, infrastructure, spares, etc., much of which will come to Canadian industry. The other $7 billion is a very educated estimate of what it will cost to support the aircraft for 20 years, the majority of which will come to Canadian industry. None of this is "borrowed"; it is all within the programmed funding envelope of the Canada First Defence Strategy.

You will hear Boeing say that they can beat the price of the F-35. The number they quote is in 2009 dollars and does not include such niceties as external fuel tanks, pylons, helmet-mounted sight system, targeting pod, missile launchers, radar warning receivers, self-protection jammers, active self-protection counter measures (chaff and flares) and the GUN! Great for cross-countries and airshows, but not much else. Add $8 - $9 mill per aircraft to do the job. When we do an apples-to-apples cost comparison between F-35, F-18E/F and Typhoon in production year dollars, the F-35 is by far the cheapest. I can’t give you the exact numbers, but they are contained in government-to-government documentation between PMA 265 and DND. There will be 560 Typhoons worldwide, 500 Super Hornets and 3000 – 5000 F-35s. The economies of scale not only for initial purchase under a multi-national MOU, but also for spares, are pretty obvious.

Let's look at the value of being part of the MOU. Every member of the MOU has one vote. Within the MOU we are exempt from Foreign Military Sales fees and that saves us about $850 million on the cost of the aircraft. For every FMS sale outside the MOU (e.g. Israel), we get a portion of the royalties. As part of the MOU, we also have the right to use all the classified intellectual property. We would lose that outside the MOU. As part of the MOU, we have guaranteed spots on the production line. This is critical to the timing of bringing the F-35 into service and phasing out the CF-18 before it dies a fatigue life death.

Let's talk about industrial opportunities as part of the MOU. As an aircraft acquirer within the MOU, our industry has favoured treatment for contracts for the global supply chain for between 3000 and 5000 aircraft. That global supply chain is being established as we speak, and that was one of the reasons for the decision in July. Although our companies could still technically participate under the MOU if we were still members but not acquiring aircraft, business realities would clearly say otherwise. For example, Pratt and Whitney makes engine components in Montreal and Turkey. If Turkey is acquiring aircraft under the MOU and Canada is not, guess where P&W will put the business. We have opportunities for at least $12 billion in business. If we are outside the MOU, we would lose that ground floor advantage for next generation technology and whatever comes after that. Now that we have activated the procurement provisions of the MOU, the negotiated Industrial Participation Plans (IPP) kick in and it is under those that Canadian companies have signed hundreds of millions worth of contracts since July. If we withdraw from the MOU to conduct a competition, our participation in the IPPs ceases. Canadian industry knows that and they are putting a lot of pressure on the Liberals to do the right thing.

The Liberals have said that they would cancel the acquisition phase of the F-35 MOU that we have entered into and hold a competition and they say that there would be no consequences of doing that. What nonsense! We would have to negotiate our way out of the MOU at a potential cost of up to $551 million. We cannot compete the MOU deal for the F-35 against an FMS deal for a Super Hornet. We would be buying the F-35 directly from the U.S. Government on an FMS case with a take-it-or-leave-it price. We would lose our spots on the production line and we would be running a serious risk of a capability gap if we have to retire the CF-18 before the new aircraft is on the line. With all the information that we have on cost, capability, industrial opportunities, etc., the answer would still be F-35 and we would have lost time, money, jobs and international respect.

In no other MOU partner is the political opposition taking such a position and it is having an impact on the credibility and confidence that our allies have in Canada. It absolutely will cost jobs if they don’t stop very soon. We have seen this partisan political movie before in 1993. Seventeen years and close to a billion dollars later, we're still waiting for the first Sea King replacement. The implications of this one are infinitely greater.

When this all started, I was a Super Hornet fan. Everything that I have seen, read and heard since has convinced me that the F-35 is the answer. No one who has studied the options with adequate information in at least ten countries has reached any different conclusion. It is not risk free; no new program is. There are echoes of the New Fighter Aircraft Program here, and that program turned out just fine. We need to get on with it.



>Posted with the Honourable Members permision.
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HaveVoid

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Unread post11 Mar 2011, 18:55

Definitely an interesting read. I have to say though, that I can't see the Navy paying off the Super Hornets in 2025. IF one assumes that the 2014 figure for closing the line is true, the youngest of these aircraft would only be 11 years old. All of that aside, the Growlers will be in service for far longer than this 2025 out of service date.
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Unread post11 Mar 2011, 19:26

"There is a lot of misinformation out there about the F-35 program. "

And Laurie just added to that.

In no way has Canada looked at Rafale with F3(/F4) capability or Gripen NG and established that either of them wouldn't be better than their current CF-18's. The numbers talk on production and costs is straight out of a LM marketing pdf and not remotely fixed in reality. And so on.
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Unread post11 Mar 2011, 23:00

HaveVoid wrote:Definitely an interesting read. I have to say though, that I can't see the Navy paying off the Super Hornets in 2025. IF one assumes that the 2014 figure for closing the line is true, the youngest of these aircraft would only be 11 years old. All of that aside, the Growlers will be in service for far longer than this 2025 out of service date.


I wonder if he meant the f18c/d's? The SH will be inservice longer than that?
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Unread post12 Mar 2011, 00:02

"I can't see the Navy paying off the Super Hornets in 2025."

No, because there is no way they are doing that. But then, this entire letter is a tissue of unverifiable assertions - "I can't give you the exact numbers... There is a very limited number of people anywhere who are fully read-in ...I'm not one of them... " and misleading statements - "A more extensive evaluation of the F-35, F-18E/F and Typhoon was conducted".

On the last point, when and how? Boeing said specifically that they were never asked about the LO characteristics of the Super Hornet, and if alloycowboy or any of the other fans are aware of Canada requesting detailed briefings from EF, Dassault, Saab or Boeing it would be interesting to know about it.

Or did Canada do the comparison based on third-party data - that is, on the kind of evidence which this arrogant coxcomb so snidely dismisses from F-35 critics?
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Unread post12 Mar 2011, 01:24

When you discuss national security questions in the open, there are always going to be aspects that will not be discussed by people in the know. Deal with it.
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Unread post12 Mar 2011, 01:34

Vipernice wrote:
In no way has Canada looked at Rafale with F3(/F4) capability or Gripen NG


I'm glad the Canadian government doesn't use results from Ace Combat to pick their aircraft. :roll:
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Unread post12 Mar 2011, 02:22

Vipernice wrote:"There is a lot of misinformation out there about the F-35 program. "

And Laurie just added to that.

In no way has Canada looked at Rafale with F3(/F4) capability or Gripen NG and established that either of them wouldn't be better than their current CF-18's. The numbers talk on production and costs is straight out of a LM marketing pdf and not remotely fixed in reality. And so on.



I would take Laurie's word over the arm-chair generals in this forum. Considering he was in the Canadian military and has flown CF-18s, his opinion has a lot of weight.

The most notable thing in the letter to determine what the military wants:

"We want one that is at the start of its development cycle and one that will be in production for at least the next 25 years."


So much for the Rafale, Typhoon, Gripen, and Super Hornet.
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Unread post12 Mar 2011, 02:38

Vipernice wrote:"There is a lot of misinformation out there about the F-35 program. "

And Laurie just added to that.

In no way has Canada looked at Rafale with F3(/F4) capability or Gripen NG and established that either of them wouldn't be better than their current CF-18's. The numbers talk on production and costs is straight out of a LM marketing pdf and not remotely fixed in reality. And so on.


And you know this how?
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Unread post12 Mar 2011, 05:25

From the email,

Sure, if the Liberals are saying now that they had absolutely no intention of procuring the F-35, that is complete junk. It's irrelevant to the prudent decision making now, needed on CF-18s replacement. Time to move on.

Regarding Kosovo and any CF-18 flaws... OK, Canada should have been more on the ball vis-a-vis upgrading their CF-18s to a common level of operational comms. This has NOTHING to do about some faulty or odd-ball airframe being flown in question, c'mon. It is about bad contingency planning and poor military readiness leadership.

I guess the only piece of the analysis in which I concur with the most Honourable Laurie Hawn, elected member of the House of Commons of Canada, is that Canada needs modern fighters ASAP to replace OLD CF-18s! Fighters which are overdue and should have been replaced ALREADY!!!

I say screw the old-game-in-town military industrial complex dream. The party is over - get with the programme!!

National Security decision making on such a magnitude of importance as this, simply cannot be relegated to the old flawed paradigms (i.e. unsustainable $chemes)!

Time to move on folks. It's about honest, realistic and calculated national defence planning now. imho.

Build muscle, cut fat! Strategic-minded decision-makers need only apply!

God speed Royal Canadian Air Force TACAIR recapitalization.
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Unread post12 Mar 2011, 05:45

If they want something cheap AND like the Hornet then they should talk to GD and license build F-CK-1 equivalents at half the price and a quarter of the capability of the F-35A.

Or maybe they could lease Mirage 2000's from the UAE (for their french speaking officers) and lease some slightly used Typhoons from the UK. That would at least give them half the price for half the capability.

Or they could swallow their pride and just stay the course.
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Unread post12 Mar 2011, 05:50

geogen wrote:

Time to move on folks. It's about honest, realistic and calculated national defence planning now. imho.


You're the last person I would ever expect to hear something like this from Geo!!!

No rebuilt CF-18's with F414-400 EPE/Advent engines, APG-79+ radars, long wave IRST installed in-place of the M61A1 gun and air launched modified SM-6 missiles hanging off the wings?

I'm disappointed brother!!!


:D
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Unread post12 Mar 2011, 06:23

Hahaha, fair shot Conan.

But no, I don't think Hornets could easily be upgraded to an APG-79 and EPE standard. Maybe RACR??

Anyway, this concept of 'evolved legacy airframes' espcially in terms of new-builds, is credible... Perhaps also credible, would be a MLU to existing legacy paltforms in question - as long as they can be cost-effectively refurb'd to fly an additional 5k hrs? Or even something like 2k hrs if cost-effective, until a possible 'Lease' option on the next level up model (or equivalent), could be proposed?

Personally though, I think an F-15SE-type is Canada's best option. For mission flexibility, range and situational awareness purposes. Perhaps fly them with F110-132 turned down to 29.5k lbf for durability and low maintenance (later mods could potentially even fly with an enhanced augmentation F110 motor, for more durability). Maybe GE of Canada could build these powerplants?

My guess is that an FY14 F-15SE-like PUC cost could be bought for around $150m, vs perhaps $175m for entry block III F-35A.

But for argument sake, no, I would not want to be in an entry level block III F-35A flying in Red Flag and opposing AESA + Grolwer-lite + next-gen SoJ + 11" LW IRST-configured Supers armed with EMMM-174 (evolved multi-mission-missile :)) imho. Respects, m8.
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Unread post12 Mar 2011, 06:48

Block 52 with CFT's offers them long range patrol on a budget.
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Unread post12 Mar 2011, 08:57

Another thread derailed with talk of fantasy fighters that the nation in question doesn't want and never will want, this time within just 12 posts. Are we gunning for a new record Geogen?

MODS: Can we perhaps have a "fanatsy fighters for dreamers" section of the forum so that we might have a chance of keeping each forum thread on topic in future. It's frustrating when every single damn topic is derailed by the usual suspects spouting the same old tired crap.
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