In an article in Vanguard Magazine’s December/January edition entitled “Seeking Alternatives” Lieutenant-General Yvan Blondin, recently appointed commander of the R.C.A.F, makes the best reasoned case in favour of both procuring the F-35 and in the numbers suggested that Canadian Defence Matters has seen. (note to the Conservative government, get this guy out there more!)
The whole article is well worth reading for an understanding of the complexities and the time lines involved in Air Force procurements. One of the issues highlighted by General Blondin is that of training requirements. He makes the case for access to training aircraft with greater capabilities then those currently available as a way of both reducing the pressure on operational fighters and of being able to meet operational commitments with smaller numbers of New Generation Fighters.
Essentially Gen. Blondin is looking for an advanced jet trainer with either organic radar or the ability to simulate one. While it could be argued that the need to procure such an aircraft simply adds to the cost of which ever new fighter is procured. it would be simplistic. The ability to use aircraft which are cheaper to procure, maintain and fly will eventually save money. The more operational tasks assigned to these aircraft the more money saved.
This brings us to the recurring theme of a Snowbirds replacement aircraft which could also serve as a substitute for the activities of companies such as Top Aces. The kind of aircraft described by Gen. Blondin would be a valuable addition to the R.C.A.F. not only for its ability to down load training requirements from more expensive fighter but for it’s ability to take over some of the other duties of those fighters. Something like a Hawk 200, or AJT with modern electronics would fit the bill nicely and still work well for the Snowbirds.