Canada ditches the F-35

I note that incoming Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau has already announced that Canada will cancel its order for the Lockheed F-35 Lightning II strike aircraft.

Good move.  Good, good move.  As we’ve said several times in these pages, the F-35 program is a boondoggle of the worst possible kind, and recent evaluations suggest that the aircraft’s performance is simply not up to the standards required.  I think the US armed forces are making a grievous error by proceeding with it at all.  I think Canada will be much better off without it.

As for alternatives, Canada will want something with twin engines (for safety of flight in its huge and very remote Arctic regions), long range (ditto), and a decent warload.  Options include the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (Canada currently operates the first-generation Hornets), the Boeing F-15 Eagle in its latest updated form, and the Dassault Rafale from France (although the latter might be a bit short-ranged for the Arctic mission).  All will cost rather less than the F-35, both in purchase price and in operating costs.

A surprise candidate, which may not be up to Canada’s needs but is an interesting development, is Lockheed’s latest-generation F-16V fighter, which made its first flight last week.  It has a modern AESA radar and internal equipment that’s said to put it (electronically, at least) in fifth-generation fighter territory, even if the airframe and engine aren’t quite there.  More to the point, it can probably be bought for half the cost of the F-35.  Even though it’s only got one engine, that’s a pretty tempting option . . .



  1. good news is the Chinese cloned the F35, which might have been the intent all along since the F22 can kill it in a straight up fight.

  2. Australia is cancelling the purchase of the F35B (which was going to the navy)

    I'm hoping they'll have the sense to cancel all of the F35s

  3. We need to be moving further up the tech tree. I'd like to see fighters that transform into bipedal mecha at some point 🙂

  4. The more cancellations of the F-35, the more the rest will cost since R&D gets amortized over fewer airframes. That makes them more likely to be cancelled (by other nations, at least, I think the US and UK are all in on it).

    Boeing has some interesting developments of the F/A-18 and the F-15. Lockheed has done much the same with the F-16. If stealth isn't a major concern there's a lot of ability to be had for the price.

  5. I've seen arguments on both sides regarding te F-35 performance. And I do like the idea of narrower supply streams (all branches being able to order the same parts). But one thing that can not be ignored is the cost. An already expensive jet, getting more expensive as each month passes, and on the return side…not leaps and bounds ahead of anything else? Should be a tough sell. Unfortunately, Lockheed's lobbyists have worked wonders, and it looks like we WILL get this jet, cost be damned.

  6. It's the TFX (F-111) all over again. It may be eventually made to work for one role reasonably well, but at great expense. I have my doubts even of that, though. Far too many compromises have been made to the design (for all variants) in order to support the V/STOL for the Marine variant. Some of the technology may be put to use elsewhere, but I don't think it's possible to polish this turd.

    I'm surprised the F-16V doesn't include the conformal fuel tanks as standard equipment. It's crazy that our own USAF has no interest in them for F-16s, even though they like them for F-15Es and some other F-15 models.

    It's almost like our various military procurement systems are following Robert Conquest's 3rd Law of Politics:
    The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

  7. Also, the Chinese "clone" of the F-35 is a much larger machine with truly huge internal weapons bays. It's really a different class of machine. And it's not crippled by the VTOL requirement of the F-35. It may well turn out to be junk, but that remains to be seen.

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