How will we repel an imaginary Russian invasion?


The new F-35s will be state-of-the-art in every way except one.

Canada’s new multibillion-dollar stealth fighters are expected to arrive without the built-in capacity to communicate from the country’s most northerly regions — a gap the air force is trying to close.

The F-35 Lightning will eventually have the ability to communicate with satellites, but the software will not be available in the initial production run, said a senior Lockheed Martin official, who spoke on background. It is expected to be added to the aircraft when production reaches its fourth phase in 2019, but that is not guaranteed because research is still underway.


How will we repel an imaginary Russian invasion?

  1. Don’t let the ruskies know, back in WW2 we had wooden guns on some of our corvettes.

  2. Q: How will we repel an imaginary Russian invasion?

    A: With planes that we pretend will work.

  3. That’s ok. They will be used primarily in the neo-colonial wars in Central Asia, anyway. 

  4. One of the funnier comments I heard about this is that not being able to communicate from the arctic won’t be a problem, because the F-35s won’t have the range to get there anyway.

    That’s not really accurate, but what IS kinda funny (read: sad and pathetic) is that apprently the F-35s also aren’t equipped to work with our current air to air refueling system.  So, while it’s certainly possible to greatly improve an F-35s range with air to air refueling, that process can’t actually be accomplished with any of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s air-to-air tankers!!!

    Luckily, communicating with patrols and keeping them in the air for extended periods of time aren’t important issues for a country as small as Canada.

    • Another arguement in favour of the newer model F-18 (the Super Hornet, IIRC)?

    • Actually, the F-35 is designed to be equipped with either a flying boom refuelling system or a hose and drogue system. It is up to the purchasing nation to decide which one they want. Most air forces outside the USAF use the hose and drogue system, including the USN, so it is hardly a problem for us to do so as well. The fact this easily debunked “problem” keeps getting reported is a tribute to the skillful lobbying efforts of Boeing and not much of a tribute to Canadian journalists who keep falling for the same stories.

      • Good update Mike, thanks.

        I’d also lay as much of the blame on that snafu on my reading as on the author’s writing.  The article does actually say “Lockheed Martin says it can equip the F-35s to use both systems, but a decision on whether to spend money on modification has yet to be made” but the way it was written I took it to mean that LM has yet to decide on whether to invest money on making the modification available, however, your update makes me realize that the “decision on whether to spend money on modification” that has yet to be made is the Canadian GOVERMENT’s decision on whether to pay for the modification, and presumably that just comes down to whether it makes more sense to change the fighters, or change the tankers (likely the tankers, I’d think, if the fighters come by “default” with a more modern system, but maybe it’s not clear yet which change would be the more cost effective change, nor does that necessarily matter in 2011).

        Thanks for the correction!

  5. Reminds me of a decade or so ago during the Mac/PC wars. Yes, PC’s were cheaper and infinitely configurable, but then you needed to buy a decent monitor, buy the keyboard and mouse – sold seperately, supply the ethernet board and video card, buy the modem, add on peripheral hard drives, not lose the boot disc and baby the thing so that it worked from day to day.

  6. This problem will be fixed within a few years  In the meantime, we have the CF-18s for northern operations.

    • A few years being almost a decade, and will be being “not guaranteed because research is still underway.”

      • Within a few years after delivery of the F-35’s.

        • Oh.. well that’s fine then. I assume of course they’re not charging us until the damn things are working properly, right?

        • Sure, but we’re cutting it pretty close! 

          Reports are that research is under way to see IF this can be fixed during the 2019 production phase.  Note, not for the F-35s that will be DELIVERED in 2019 necessarily, but for the ones that will be “produced” in 2019.  The CF-18s are scheduled to last until 2017-2020.  We’re supposed to start taking delivery of the F-35s in 2016.  That we could be using our last CF-18s for arctic patrols for up to 3 of their last years of service because the F-35s won’t be able to handle those patrols yet is shoddy, to say the least.  And this is all presuming that their 2019 estimate is on track, which I believe might be the first time-line estimate the program will actually meet, if it actually meets it.

          ETA: Ignore this next part of my comment (left here for honesty’s sake, lol), as MikeRemond has corrected me that the problem with in-air refueling isn’t actually that the F-35 can’t be made compatible with our tankers’ systems, it’s just that the government hasn’t decided yet to pay for the modifications to the fighters, presumably because they’re still weighing whether it makes more sense to modify the fighters to match the tankers, or whether it would be smarter to modify the tankers to match the fighters.

          There also seems to be no firm indication whatsoever that they’ll EVER fix the fact that, apparently, the F-35’s in-flight refueling system DOESN’T MATCH WITH THE SYSTEM USED BY OUR IN-AIR TANKERS, which also seems crazy to me.

          • Your comment that the in-flight refuelling problem would be crazy if true is answered by the fact it isn’t true. As the journalists who wrote this story could find out with about five minutes research.

  7. Absolutely zero interest shown by the CP reporter or the Maclean’s cribber: would any imaginary alternative to the F-35 have any better communications capabilities?  And if aftermarket equipment can pimp the ride of the near-if-not-already obsolete CF-18, well, why couldn’t something similar happen here?

    And if it’s a SOFTWARE issue, why should it wait for a fourth production run?  Three geeks with security clearance, a weekend retreat and all-you-can-eat-pizza, and you’d be about halfway there, no?

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