Is ‘full spectrum’ fighter capability relevant for the air force?

In response to Anne Griffith’s comment about the F-35 brief, I was at the same briefing and was similarly unimpressed.  It was very much a “glossy brochure” type of brief - very shiny but very much lacking any convincing argument.  One thing that bothers me is the lack of any real analysis of what Canada will require in terms of fighter capability.  Has there been any gaming of expected future scenarios relevant to Canada?  Why is stealth so high on the requirements list? What is the threat analysis that drives such a huge ‘survivability’ capability? Etc. The F-35 may be the best fighter on the market, but ....

The accepted air force mantra is that a full spectrum of capabilities is essential to any air force worthy of its’ name.  Why?  Has anyone other than the air force critically examined their ‘full spectrum’ doctrine for its relevance to Canada’s requirements?  Don’t think so.

There’s an interesting piece in The Globe and Mail on Sunday, April 3rd, entitled “Canadian pilots cautious of collateral damage in Libya,” concerning our F-18s in Libya.  It’s an excellent article and very supportive to the Canadian effort.  What was interesting to me, and to the F-35 issue, is the comment that the pilots have a hard time changing their mission profile in flight.  It seems a single F-18 pilot has great difficulty in coping in a dynamic environment where the circumstances at the target turn out not to be as briefed. To their credit they are returning to base with their bombs still loaded rather than drop them on uncertain targets, but where’s the analysis of future threat scenarios that might involve Canadian fighters? If the future is more scenarios like Libya, maybe what is needed is a dual-seat aircraft.

None of which suggests support for Mr. Ignatieff’s idea of diverting F-35 funding to social programmes.