As Canada's CF-18 Hornet replacement saga continues to limp along, some news is coming out of Ottawa that would pit Boeing's economical and familiar F/A-18 Super Hornet against the stealthy yet expensive F-35 Lightning.
Foxtrot Alpha has taken an in-depth look at this complicated issue in this special feature:
Reuters is reporting that all European fighter alternatives have been dropped from the selection process. These include the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale and the Saab Gripen. This leaves America's only two fighter aircraft manufacturers, Lockheed and Boeing, left in the competition.
According to Reuters source:
Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 stealth fighter and Boeing Co's F-18 E/F Super Hornet were deemed more suitable for the variety of tasks the military has laid out.
The source said that while the F-35 had scored well on the various tests laid out by the military, the Super Hornet was almost as capable and had the advantage of being cheaper.
If this report ends up being accurate, it will be interesting to see how Canada will proceed with their narrowed field of fighter options. Will their choice be based on a 'paper fly-off,' or will there be some hands-on evaluation of both aircraft as well?
Canada really does not have the luxury of sitting back and waiting to see how the whole F-35 program turns out as the jet struggles to move from development to operational status. The stealthy aircraft's current engine troubles are likely to lengthen the its teething process even longer than is already planned. The issue is that the Super Hornet/Growler production line is already moving to a minimal production model, and by 2017 it will have to close if no further orders are taken.
By then, the Harper government will probably be long out of office, but their almost blind faith drive to field the F-35 will be realized simply by waiting out the Super Hornet's production clock.
Photos via DoD
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com