Sunday, September 17, 2017

Canadian Think Tanks slam potential Super Hornet sale...the F-35 mafia continues to make false claims!

via Globe and Mail.
On Sept. 12, the U.S. government responded to Canada's inquiry on the pricing for 18 Super Hornets. The price tag came back at $6.4-billion. If the sale goes through, it may end up being one of the most wasteful fiascos ever undertaken by a Canadian government. It strips away the Liberals' election claim about managing the defence file better than the Conservatives, while illustrating extreme mismanagement.

So, what do we actually get for $6.4-billion? In addition to the 18 aircraft, the offer includes the ancillary equipment required to operate the aircraft and support from the manufacturers.

The total cost is surprisingly high, especially given the projected cost of replacing the existing CF-18 fleet with 65 F-35s. According to the Department of National Defence's 2014 figures, which remain roughly accurate today, acquiring 65 F-35s with ancillary equipment and support comes to roughly $9-billion. To lend further credibility to these numbers, the Danish government's 2016 assessment showed that acquiring 27 F-35s would cost approximately $3.7-billion.

What accounts for this massive disparity? The first is production scale. Boeing can produce a maximum 36 Super Hornets a year, while Lockheed Martin will produce 90 F-35s next year, and more than 150 in the year after that. This difference results in greater economies of scale, and a lower cost. The F/A-18s also require additional sensors and pods and adapters that come standard with the F-35.

Moreover, the United States charges Canada for the development of the Super Hornet and administering the contract. Those fees are waived for the F-35, as Canada has already invested approximately $455-million to be part of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. Finally, the Super Hornet would require modifications to make them suitable for Canadian use. Far from being an easy transition, this will only further drive up the cost. With the F-35, Canada had many of those modifications incorporated into the design as a member of the JSF program.

All of these issues, which resulted in the Conservative government's decision in 2010 to bypass the Super Hornet and instead select the F-35, are well-known to senior defence officials. However, this reality did not suit the incoming Liberal government, which made an election promise to exclude the F-35 from any future competition. Of course, that course of action would be illegal. Their decision to then pursue a fleet of interim Super Hornets was based on the dubious claim that they required an aircraft "not in development."

The irony is that in order to make the Super Hornet work for Canada, it requires significant additional development: more so than the F-35 (which concludes its development program this year). Nevertheless, the advice of senior defence officials has clearly been ignored. This was the entire point of a gag order, which sought to muzzle the officials so they could not speak out about the looming boondoggle.

The interim buy comes with added issues, such as extending the life of the current CF-18 fleet until its replacement comes online, sometime in the late 2020s. The last such upgrade undertaken in the 2000s came to around $3-billion, which provides a rough benchmark. This brings the total cost of this misadventure to over $9-billion – or more than the projected cost of replacing the CF-18s outright with 65 F-35s.
Story here. 

I need to make a few points.

1.  They laud the price point of the F-35 but that price they're so fired up about is sometime in the future...if ever!  If Canada were to contract to buy the planes today then the cost would be astronomically higher than the Super Hornet.  These Think Tank Bubbas know that but they intentionally muddy the waters.

2.  They gloss over the fact that Canadian planes need to be life extended NOW!  Even if the F-35 were bought today not only would the planes themselves cost more but the life extensions that they whine about would still need to occur before the F-35 hit the ramps.

3.  The ancillary equipment that they say the F-35 doesn't need is a lie.  Various "built in" sensors are in NEED OF UPDATE NOW!  That lauded EOTS? NAVAL AIR has already said that many current gen pilots will feel like they're stepping backwards when they get in the cockpit of the F-35.  Pods are interchangeable.  Built in sensors are not.  That means that you will need to conduct EXPENSIVE UPGRADES to keep up with the latest SNIPER and LANTRIN systems that are already in the fleet and the newest upgrades that are being developed as we speak.

4.  Didn't they buy a shitload of missiles and other gear?  Why is that being ignored?

Long short?

The F-35 fan club uses deceit and at times outright lies to push this monstrosity forward.

When did I become convinced that the entire enterprise was corrupt and that it even reached the highest levels of the Marine Corps (don't care about the USAF or foreign militaries)?  When the USMC Deputy Commandant for Aviation made his road trips selling the F-35 and then tried to pitch the idea that his all singing, great dancing, pilot pleasuring airplane would need a Combat UAV to do MV-22 escort, Close Air Support, and ISR duties.

But that's a capabilities argument.

The real crime is the pricing BS they push.  The biggest issue is how they price these aircraft.  It is far from clear and they like it like that.

The biggest reform that Mattis could implement when it comes to defense projects is clarity.  No more accounting gimmicks.  No more accounting games. Simple methods that everyone can understand.

Having said that I've tarried too long.  This is the battlefield that they've now chosen to fight on?  So be it.  It's time to learn the ugly sausage of Pentagon contracting.  I don't want to be an expert but I must be able to refute the bullshit artists like these Think Tank Bubbas pushing a false narrative.

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