Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Rhino vs Lightning II

While I was at the Abbotsford Airshow I managed to meet and briefly talk to both manufacturers of the two planes Canada is trying to choose one of to replace its aging CF-18 Hornets.   Both planes were in attendance, although only the Rhino flew.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning IIs flew in as part of an recently made operational USAF squadron.  They parked one in the static display area and kept the other tucked away.  Representatives from Lockheed-Martin set up a booth tent behind the F-35 on display and were there to talk to the folks about the Lightning II.  There was a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet (or "Rhino") on display and one Navy plane flying a demo while the Boeing Company had one of their own Rhinos there to also fly a demo!  The Boeing folks narrated their own demo.  Their Rhino was loaded up with all sorts of ordinance and still flew a complete demo.   The US Navy demo Rhino was unloaded and had just enough fuel to do the demo.  It's demo was impressive too!

I would have liked to see the F-35 fly but I think I did get a pretty good idea what each aircraft is capable of and how it could work for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

So what do I think of this competition now I've seen each aircraft?  In my opinion I think this whole competition thing is a ridiculous waste of time, money and energy!

Talk about comparing apples and oranges, these two planes are completely different!  Yes, they will do each other's job and quite well, but in a totally different way.  For you World War II air power fans, which plane was better; the Spitfire or the Mosquito?  How about the B-25 Mitchell or the P-51 Mustang?  Each plane was important in their own right.  Each could do the others job.  But you can't choose!  The same goes for these two fantastic planes.

The F-35 is light and small while the Rhino is huge and quite heavy in comparison.  The F-35 has one engine (albeit a very powerful one at 40,000 lbs thrust) the Rhino has two!  In my opinion the F-35 appears to be unable to carry the weight of ordinance of the Rhino.  Both rely on their stealth capabilities but the F-35 appears to count on those capabilities more than the F-18!   Most  F-18 Super Hornets seem to be set up for a two-crew while to my knowledge all of the F-35s are set up for a single pilot.  The F-35 is a much prettier little plane than the brutish F-18.

And the differences go on and on.  In my opinion there is only one solution; we buy enough of both planes to equip up to three squadrons of each over the next five to ten years!  Both planes will have a service life well into the 2040s.  That way each aircraft can be assigned the missions to which it was purposefully designed and succeed, all the while keeping our Canadian pilots as safe as they can be in air combat.

I am not an aeronautical engineer!  I am a retired teacher and school administrator.  But I am certified as "Plane Crazy"! I've read and studied this issue in great detail!  There's my opinion!

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