I was going through some old draft posts that I had never finished and I found one about Canada’s purchase of the F-35 and my thoughts on it. The time has past, the debate seems over and Canada seemed to have few other options but I was surfing Wikipedia and saw that Boeing is coming out with a stealthy version of it’s F-15. I was interested in it because the F-35 Lightening II is not a very good air to air fighter and it’s slow.
It was never conceptualized to be an air superiority fighter but rather a strike fighter. It only carries to air to air missiles and has a top speed of only Mach 1.6. Speed doesn’t always matter but in an air battle when you are only carrying two missiles and have shot them both, it does. Not only that but during the first Gulf War, even F-15’s had a hard time dealing with the obsolete but still really fast Mig 25’s. At Mach 1.6, the F-35 will be almost 450 mph slower than expected fifth generation Russian and Chinese fighters. There has also been a series of reports out that specify that the new Russian fighters (Su-Pak FA) vastly out turn and out perform the F-35. With Canada only purchasing 60 F-35 to replace the 100 or so operational F-18s, perhaps a plane that can actually dogfight might be a good option. Since the F-22 isn’t being exported to anyone, even staunch U.S. allies, expect the F-15 Silent Eagle to get a look by several U.S. allies who wanted the F-22 and don’t want to settle for the F-35. Either way, it doesn’t look like Canada will be able to operate with American permission and air cover for the foreseeable future. If that is the case, the F-35 will do us fine.
You can read more about the problems and controversy over the F-35 from a military standpoint here. It’s discomforting reading because no one really knows what kind if aircraft they are getting.