Well, theoretically, if resources were unlimited, they still could. Buy the F-35 now, but join the European effort for the next buy. Question is, how large would a fleet of fighters need to be for two types to not lose economies of scale?
For a fleet size that Canada is expecting to acquire there is little logic to a mixed fleet. The reasons are political, not financial or capability.
Not sure if I posted in this thread or the previous Canadian one but the RCAF had issued a study that demonstrated that a mixed fleet that covered the two primary missions of NORAD and NATO would require more aircraft, more pilots and a greater sustainment burden than a single fleet.
A cut from the study is here,
http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/about-report ... et-en.page
Based on reasonable assumptions, the RCAF can maintain anticipated domestic and international commitments using a single fleet of 65 fighter aircraft and 90 pilots.
A mixed fighter fleet can provide the same or equivalent capability, but not without significantly more aircraft and pilots.
Mixed fighter fleets comparable in size to the single fighter fleet will likely result in lower overall capability, at a higher cost.
Unfortunately the above link does not work. The article was removed as well as a host of others after the Liberals came to power in Canada. The Libs slapped a NDA on all the acquisition staff and essentially purged the publically available documents of anything that didn’t match with their new intent…
What we know though is people keep going on about a mixed fleet for Canada but the logic is flawed. Mixed fleets work when the respective Air Force already has a decent number of 4th gen aircraft in service, such as the UK or Italy which will integrate F-35 alongside their existing Eurofighter squadrons. Given Canada needs to replace one single fighter type there is no logic (other than political motivation) to split the new fleet into two types.
I will give you an example of some flawed assessment. In an article published earlier this year on the NATO Association of Canada website http://natoassociation.ca/the-case-for- ... ter-fleet/
the author indicated that Canada could comfortably operate a mixed fleet and that this would increase capability, not hinder it. His rationale was the following,
By acquiring a high/low mix fighter fleet comprising a few F-35s and numerous Super Hornets (including Growlers), the RCAF will be prepared to counter emerging peer and near-peer competitors looking to counter Western air forces’ air supremacy through the development of access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities which are weapon systems designed to make an airspace off-limits to an adversary. Only a mixed fleet can address the growing A2/AD threat since 4th and 5th generation aircrafts compensate for each others’ weaknesses. Indeed, thanks to its stealth, its unmatched ability in fusing data collected from its multiple high-tech sensors into actionable intelligence transmittable to other planes, the F-35 will act as a survivable Intelligence, Surveillance, Target acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) platform for Super Hornets in an increasingly contested airspace.
In other words, the F-35 will be a stealthy spotter and a command and control (C2) node that can operate close to enemy forces to identify targets for the non-stealthy Super Hornets acting as airborne missile platforms flying at a safe distance from the A2/AD envelope. The far-flying Super Hornets can then launch long-range missiles which are guided by the F-35’s sensors towards the targets it previously identified. Unlike 5thgeneration fighters that have a limited payload since they must carry their weapons internally to not give away stealth, 4th generation jets carry a lot more missiles externally given their non-stealthy layout. Hence the complementarity between the F-35 acting as a scout and the Super Hornet operating as a flying arsenal.
Can you spot the issues with his claims?
He states that 4th and 5th gen aircraft can complement each other in battle which is correct and we have seen that in the UK with Eurofighter and F-35B already training together. His false claim though is that 5th gen aircraft are limited by magazine depth, essentially they can only carry so many missiles internally. What he fails to grasp is that a 5th gen F-35 can become a missile truck just like the 4th gen SH if it needs to be.
For example his premise is using forward F-35s, whose stealth allows them to operate within hostile battle space, to identify and illuminate targets for SH in the rear areas that have a larger A2A payload. First issue obviously being the SH cannot carry a greater A2A payload than the F-35 if both are using external stores,
And the above load will move to 16 A2A missiles when the internal bays can include 6 A2A missiles.
What we see in the above load for the SH in max A2A config, is one external fuel tank. The SH, while having more fuel than the classic Hornet, is still limited to an internal fuel load of 14,000 lbs plus approx 3000 lbs external while the F-35 has 18,000 lbs internal with an additional 18,000lbs of total payload. Not only that but the SH has canted pylons creating significant drag when carrying external stores. What that translates to is a significant disadvantage in a SH being operated as a rear area aircraft compared to the F-35 in range and persistence.
The other failure of logic in the article is that the SH is less costly to acquire than the F-35. We have seen from the FMS case submitted for the interim SH purchase that the cost of the airframe is significantly higher than what Canada could acquire the F-35 for. Additionally, from a capability perspective every single F-35 you acquire can operate in a high threat zone, the SH cannot without significant additional support. The F-35 brings a longer ranged radar, better LPI data-link, all aspect stealth airframe, integrated IRST, better WVR performance, improved EW, higher speed, greater payload range and a much larger support base that will operate and maintain the F-35 fleet for significantly longer.
The above applies to any 4th gen aircraft Canada could acquire if it wants to operate them in concert with F-35s or even separate.