Tuesday, October 19, 2004

In Defence of LRPA

The following response was sent to an acquaintance who was lamenting the decline of the CF's long range patrol capability with the aging CP-140 Aurora.

Now why would I disagree with such an obviously good point? The CP-140, like the CF-18, like the CC-130, like the Sea King, like the Buffalo, like the Labrador, like the whatever else you'd care to name in any of the three elements of the CF's inventory, has been used and abused to the point of collapse. The CP-140 is a vital tool in the exercise of our whatever is left of our sovereignty. We are spending considerable money on a long-overdue weapons system, avionics and radar upgrade for 80 of our remaining approximately 120 CF-18s. It is very welcome and I have flown one with the upgraded radar earlier this year - big improvement. We will still have the same old engines, though, and we've lost one pilot this year in a survivable ejection made fatal by neglect of a required seat harness modification. In the case of the CP-140, 16 aircraft cannot do the job required. We have long since stopped doing NorPats with any frequency to see what's going on up there. With the Northwest Passage becoming more passable every year, a regular presence will be vital to any Canadian claim to the land and ice masses in the Arctic. With respect to ASW, if I were a terrorist or a druggie, I would have enough money to buy old Soviet subs and probably hire the crews. The likely numbers wouldn't justify an expensive ASW capability on its own, but maintaining a capability that's already there is a helluva lot cheaper than trying to re-generate it. The CF-18 force stopped training at low level a couple of years ago as a way to save about 12 hours per pilot per year. Aside from being very embarrassing in exercises with our allies, it is another capability that will cost aircraft and lives to re-generate at some time in the future. I grew up in the fighter era when we were re-inventing low level operations and I lost a lot of friends in the process.

Let me give you one short anecdote that will show that the stupidity with which we approach required equipment capability is not new. I was in ther New Fighter Aircraft Project Office when we were buying the CF-18 in the late 70s. At one point, the radar altimeter was an extra cost option on the aircraft. The then-DCDS was a former Commander of 1 CAG, whose comments (at from one- to three-star levels) were on many CF-104 and other fighter controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) fatal accidents, demanding that the CF-104 be modified with a radalt. Despite that, the position was taken that, if it cost a penny more than the baseline aircraft, we weren't going to include it on the CF-18. I personally did a study of all the CFIT accidents in the fighter force, showing how ridiculous this position was, to no avail. It was only when the U.S. Navy spec made the radalt baseline to the aircraft did we get such a basic capability. Lives would have been lost without it.

I have yet to drop a bomb or fire a missile from a simulator, and have it leave the building. We have become so wrapped up in reducing costs at all costs, that we now have a simulated combat capability. That may match nicely with our simulated sovereignty that we have devolved to under our simulated government, but actual Canadians and our future deserve better.

Maritime aviation forever! I can't believe I said that...................


Blogger TonyGuitar said...

I did some reading about RCN activity in the Gulf of St. Lawrence , Fundy and US /Can East coast.

Stupidity and penny pinching are more of a tradition than I ever realized, the whole time I was in the RCN during the sixties.

The radar upgrade from ASpic was a close call and actually cost us lives and assets.

Winning based more on luck than on wise planning.

Funny how tradition lives on.

I was in during the Cuban Missle Time. Some white knuckles to be sure. Good thing the three Soviet sub Skippers were more restrained than Kruschev. 73s TonyGuitar

10:48 PM  

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