Mark Collins – What Stinking RCAF Fighter “Capability Gap” for NORAD and NATO?

It looks like the Liberal Government cooked up a new operational requirement for RCAF fighters without bothering to consult the Air Force itself. GOOD FLIPPING GRIEF. Did the government even speak with NATO? Further to this post and “Comments”,

Now Likely? Canada to Sole-Source Some Super Hornets for RCAF After All?

and this article,

Liberal policy forcing need for new jets: RCAF head

Canada needs an interim fleet of fighter jets only because the Liberal government created a policy that increased the number of aircraft that must be available for NORAD and NATO missions at the same time, the head of the Royal Canadian Air Force says.

The Liberals invoked a long-standing “capability gap” last week to justify the sole-source purchase of 18 Boeing Super Hornets, but Lieutenant-General Michael Hood on Monday [Nov. 28] said the need for new jets was caused by the recent policy change.

“Previously … we were comfortable as an armed forces in meeting those [NORAD and NATO commitments] with our extant fleet,” Lt.-Gen. Hood told reporters after appearing at a Senate committee.

“That policy has changed with a requirement to be able to meet both of those concurrently, as opposed to managing them together, thus the requirement to increase the number of fighters available,” he said…

Lt.-Gen. Hood said the previous Conservative government’s plan to buy 65 F-35s would not meet Canada’s new policy in terms of international commitments [but that’s not what the then Chief of the Air Staff said in 2011, see below]…

The general refused for “security reasons” (scroll down here) to put numbers to those commitments. But the numbers, certainly for NORAD, have long been public and the commitments were in place before the Conservatives took office from the Liberals in 2006. A post of mine at (lots of interesting reaction at the thread):

Serving (!) Air Force major in 2006, pp. 3-4 (just after Conservatives took office, clearly previous Liberal policy):


…In NORAD, the Canadian Forces are committed to provide 36 fighters for air sovereignty and homeland security. In addition to this Canada is committed to provide six or more fighters to the United Nations and/or NATO at any given time, should the need arise…

And in 2011:


The ability to defend the skies and operate overseas at the same time would be in peril if the Harper government buys fewer stealth fighters than planned, the head of the Royal Canadian Air Force said Monday [Dec. 12].

Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps said the air force would have to review how much “concurrent activity” it could handle if the number of radar-evading F-35s drop below the 65 aircraft the government has promised…

“In the end, it’s all about managing risk in delivering the defence mission. The number 65 gives us the capacity to cover all our missions with confidence.”..

It is the smallest fleet the air force is able to live with given its current commitments to North American air defence, which requires at least 36 fighters to be set aside for NORAD missions [not clear if the general himself gave that number].

The initial joint-strike fighter proposal said Canada was prepared to buy 80 aircraft, replacing the current fleet of CF-18s almost one-for-one.

Deschamps said the decision to move to 65 jets was based on a mixture of “affordability” and what numbers the air force believes “it needs to deliver on our numerous defence missions.”..

Plus 2014 (story Aug. 2016):


No fighter jet requirement for NATO: report

Canada is not required to provide a certain number of fighter jets to NATO, says a Defence Department report that’s raising fresh questions about the Liberal government’s rush to buy a new warplane.

The report, published in June 2014 by the research arm of National Defence, says that while Canada supports NATO and contributes aircraft and other military assets when possible, “there is no hard minimum requirement for the NATO commitment.”

That means the only actual requirement Canada must meet in terms of providing fighter jets is its obligation to defend North America along with the U.S.

The government has repeatedly stated in recent months that the military does not have enough CF-18s to both defend North America and fulfil its obligations to NATO. It says that is why a new plane is needed sooner rather than later.

But neither the government nor the Defence Department have said how many jets Canada actually needs, saying that to reveal the numbers would jeopardize national security…

The Defence Research and Development Canada report suggests that a maximum of 36 aircraft are required to be operational at any time to help defend North America, and that “anything beyond this number is in excess of the current requirement.”

Those planes don’t all have to be on high alert waiting for an attack, the report says. Some can be involved in training or NATO operations, and would be called back if required.

Canada currently has 77 CF-18s, but Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has said only about half of them are operational at any given time. The report confirms those numbers, but also says the military can make do with 65 [surprise!] fighter jets…

The jiggery-pokery of the government is a wonder to behold. And this major defence policy change was made without even waiting for the results of its much ballyhooed defence review being in. Open and transparent my tushie. And the Conservatives were just as bad. Help.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


24 thoughts on “Mark Collins – What Stinking RCAF Fighter “Capability Gap” for NORAD and NATO?”

  1. A real “Ouch!” from Col. (ret’d) Ted Campbell:

    The implications of this policy change are large: more aircraft, even a few more, means more people and more facilities and more supply chain and, and, and … I, personally, simply do not believe that the Trudeau regime intends to spend an extra red cent on the military so this is nothing but smoke and mirrors: a conjurer’s trick to make the feeble minded, disinterested (in defence) majority think that the Liberals actually have a plan to get the right aircraft for Canada at the right price, etc.

    In fact, I think that Prime Minister Trudeau wants to emasculate the military ~ he will try, I suspect, to do by neglect what his father tried, circa 1969 and 70, to do by policy: to make the Canadian Armed Forces irrelevant and, eventually, too expensive to restore to utility. I also believe that retired Lieutenant General Andrew Leslie, the Chief Government Whip and retired Lieutenant Colonel Harjit Sajjan, the Minister of national Defence, understand what the PM is trying to do and I guess that they, combined, lack the political capability to change his mind, and also, I fear, they also lack the moral courage to do the right thing and resign in protest.”

    Mark Collins

  2. From RCAF head LGEN Hood–looks like this means that the 18 Super Hornets will be added to the fleet of (now with crash) 76 CF-18s:

    “…the Government has just announced that it is investing in the RCAF, and that we will grow to meet their policy direction regarding the availability of our fighter capability.

    “The Government has now directed that we be ready to meet our daily NATO and NORAD commitments simultaneously. The Government has committed to delivering those resources, in part through an open and transparent competition to replace the fighter fleet. Meanwhile, they will enter into discussion with the United States Government and Boeing to augment our present CF-188 fleet.

    “We will also be provided the additional resources required to continue to fly the CF-188 and a potential interim fleet through to transition to the ultimate replacement aircraft. This will include recruiting and training additional pilots and aircraft technicians….”

    More resources? Hmmm. Believe it when I see it.

    Mark Collins

  3. Consider that Denmark conducted a fighter competition that the F-35A won in three years (2013-16), despite political vicissitudes; our gov’t says we will take FIVE:


    The competition started again in March 2013 with a planned down selection before the end of June 2015 and expected delivery of the new aircrafts in 2020-2024. Eurofighter was given the green light to rejoin the competition.
    In April 2014 the Ministry of Defense issued a “Request for Binding Information” (RBI) to the four participating aircraft manufacturers; Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Eurofighter and SAAB. The request revealed that the danes are interested in the two-seat F-version of Boeings F-18 Super Hornet.

    On July 21st 2014 Eurofighter, Lockheed Martin and Boeing handed in the answers to the RBI. The Swedish Defense and Security Exports Agency, Försvarsexportmyndigheten, and SAAB did not hand in answers about the JAS-39E Gripen Next Generation-aircraft. An official reason for withdrawing from the Danish competition was never given in public by the swedes.
    Three jets are still participating in the contest. It is the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Boeing F-18F Super Hornet and the F-35A Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter).

    A parliamentary election in June 2015 postponed the down selection once more. On December 22nd 2015 Defence minister Peter Christensen wrote to the defence committee in the Danish Parliament, that the Government will present a recommendation in the spring of 2016. After that a public debate will follow and discussions within the group of parties behind the defence settlement.”

    Consider also that both the Conservative and Liberal governments have already collected and assessed large amounts of info from potential competitors:

    “New RCAF Fighter: Consult, Consult, Consult (with industry)–Why Not Just Compete?”

    Mark Collins

  4. Note last sentence:

    ‘Dutch join Norwegians on F-35 brake chute development

    The Netherlands will join Norway on the development of the brake chute for the Lockheed Martin F-35, the Norwegian government confirmed last week.

    In a 25 November bill presented to the Norwegian Parliament, the Dutch government agreed to pay Norway 96 million NOK ($11.4 million) to cover their share of development costs. That cost share will allow the Norwegian government to redirect those funds to other areas of its F-35 programme, according to a post by the minister of defence.

    While most international partners’ F-35s are indistinguishable from the US fighters, Norway and now the Netherlands will incorporate drag chutes to help the aircraft land on icy runways.

    “Though relying on the aircraft’s hydraulics for power, it is a separate add-on system with its own wiring and hard points,” the Norwegian government says in a statement. “The benefit of the system is that it makes it both easier and safer to operate the F-35 on slippery runways, as we often will be doing in Norway during the winter months.”

    Lockheed will test the brake chute at Edwards AFB, California this summer and will begin testing on icy runways in Alaska in late winter 2017, a company spokesman tells FlightGlobal.

    Canada also expressed interest in the modification, FlightGlobal reported in 2014…’

    Mark Collins

  5. Meanwhile Finnish Hornets being upgraded:


    “Facing the Bear: Nordics’ Fighter Force Greatly to Outnumber Canadian…”

    Mark Collins

  6. Gov’t establishes another fighter procurement bureaucracy:

    Meanwhile PM Trudeau says F-35 can compete for new fighter down the road a piece:

    Mark Collins

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