The Canadian Press recently reported that the Trudeau government has until the end of the year to decide on an offer for Super Hornet fighter jets.
There is a formal offer on the table to sell 18 Boeing Super Hornets. But that is in limbo because of Boeing’s complaint about the Canadian government and the support it has provided to Bombardier for the development of the C-Series passenger aircraft.
The Trudeau government can ask for an extension, but there is no guarantee it will be granted, Canadian Press noted.
But industry officials tell Defence Watch there the Liberals don’t have much to worry about. Boeing is not going to turn down $6 billion in business if the Trudeau government decides to buy the aircraft.
The Trump administration is also not going to turn down an offer that would secure well-paying U.S. jobs at Boeing’s production facility.
Would there be a price increase? There could be a slight one but that could be offset by tougher bargaining on the part of the Canadian government, officials say.
Boeing, which has seen its reputation undermined in Canada because of the whole Bombardier issue, might be in a mood to provide even more favourable terms, they add.
Whether the Liberal government buys Super Hornets or simply delays the acquisition of aircraft until after the next election remains to be seen.
Inside the Royal Canadian Air Force there is the view that it makes sense to just go into a competition for a full-fleet replacement instead of buying “interim” Super Hornets.
Another day and another article about Boeing’s dispute with Bombardier and the Canadian government.
As readers are well aware, Boeing complained earlier this year to the U.S. about what it has labelled as subsidies provided to Bombardier by Canadian governments. As a result, the Trump administration has hit the Canadian company with a penalty of almost 300 per cent in duties on its C-Series civilian passenger aircraft.
In an article today about the ongoing dispute I had this line near the end of the story: “Boeing’s critics point out it receives billions of dollars of subsidies from the U.S. government.”
That has prompted a rebuke from Boeing spokesman Scott Day, who accused me of “spreading false information.”
According to Boeing it hasn’t received any subsidies. Day noted that, “U.S. Export-Import Bank financing does not go to Boeing. Boeing doesn’t receive a single penny in funds or financing from the Export-Import Bank.”
He also added that “the World Trade Organization has dismissed the vast majority of subsidy claims against Boeing.”
For starters, reporting accurately what Boeing’s critics are saying isn’t “spreading false information.”
Boeing’s critics, both in Canada and around the world, have indeed repeatedly pointed out that the company receives billions of dollars of subsidies from U.S. governments at the federal, municipal and state levels.
The U.S. watchdog group Good Jobs First has continually reported on the billions of dollars that it says Boeing receives in government subsidies. In 2015, the St. Louis Business Journal, citing a Good Jobs First study, noted that Boeing is the nation’s largest winner of state and local tax incentives, receiving in excess of $13 billion U.S.. Most of that was related to Boeing’s commercial aircraft manufacturing, the newspaper noted.
In the article, I also quoted Marc Allen, Boeing’s president of international business, who stated the company took its action against Bombardier to ensure a level playing field in the aerospace industry and Boeing believes that global trade only works if everyone plays by the same rules.
Boeing’s critics say that isn’t true and Boeing is really out to destroy it competitor Bombardier and significantly hurt Canada’s aerospace industry. They too could accuse me of “spreading false information” by reporting on Boeing’s view, although they haven’t yet. Maybe that email is to come.
Interestingly, Day’s email arrived just as Bloomberg TV was reporting that the United Kingdom’s Labour Party has now labelled Boeing the “king of corporate welfare.”
Labour’s trade spokesman Barry Gardiner accused the U.S. aerospace giant of “egregious hypocrisy” in pursuing the illegal-subsidies claim against Bombardier Inc.
Boeing has been denounced by many in the UK government and opposition MPs for putting thousands of UK jobs at risk with its action (the wings for C-Series aircraft are built in Northern Ireland).
Gardiner told Bloomberg that “no aircraft these days comes to market without support from government,” including those produced by Boeing.
“Boeing has absolutely been sucking at the milk of corporate welfare in America for far too long,” Gardiner said on Bloomberg TV. “They need to understand that the way in which they are playing this does not sit well with U.K. parliamentarians.”
But according to Boeing executives the 300 per cent duty now tacked on to Bombardier aircraft being sold in the U.S. is about all about “following trade rules” and not about punishing its competitors. “This trade case is about fairness,” Day noted. “Taking government subsidies and using them to offer below-production-cost pricing on aircraft is a violation in the U.S., and the laws are well-known.”
Both sides have their view.
But it is becoming clearer now that Boeing’s actions could have serious consequences in its ability to sell defence related products to Canada and the United Kingdom.
Government officials in both countries have suggested that is the case.
Whether that comes about still has to be seen though.
Since 2016, Finnish Air Force F/A-18 multi-role fighters have been capable of carrying air to ground weapons. During Ruska 2017 Air Operations Exercise the exercise troops familiarize themselves with all aspects of planning and execution operations including air-to-ground missions.
Protecting Finland’s population, critical infrastructure of the nation and the troops and capabilities of the Finnish Defence Forces from attacks from the air is the main mission of the air defense of Finland.
The air defense of Finland, led by the Finnish Air Force, is based on Defensive Counter Air missions performed by combat aircraft supported by Ground-Based Air Defence units with both airborne and ground-based capabilities equally important to mission success.
From late 2016, a new type of mission capability has been added to the Finnish Air Force as its the F/A-18 C/D Hornet multi-role fighters reached Full Operational Capability for the use of precision-guided air-to-ground weapons. As a part of the Mid-Life Upgrade 2 (MLU 2) programme that ran from 2012 to 2016, the short range guided bomb JDAM, medium-range glide bomb JSOW and the long-range JASSM standoff missile were integrated to the F/A-18 fleet.
The weapons inventory enables the Finnish Air Force to support all three branches of the Finnish military, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force with the ability to strike various types of ground targets from a distance up to several hundred kilometers. The F/A-18 with the air-to-ground capability is a flexible and fast platform for delivering firepower even during surprising and fast-developing military crises.
The air-to-ground capability of the Finnish Air Force contributes to the Defense of Finland in several ways. One of its important effects is the fact that the potential attacker needs to take into consideration the defender’s ability to strike its units and their staging areas from a distance – something that an air defence force with only Defensive Counter Air and Ground Based Air Defense capabilities is unable to do.
Ruska 17 Air Operations exercise, which took place in from 9 to 13 October, focused on all aspects of the air defense of Finland. In terms of the amount of troops participating Ruska 17 was the largest exercise of the Finnish Air Force in 2017. One of the training targets of Ruska was to test the use of the precision-guided air-to-ground weapons of the Finnish Air Force F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighter fleet as a part of the operations of the Finnish Defence Forces.
“Ruska 17 was successful in testing our capability to fight a battle as an air force, says Brigadier General, Jari Mikkonen, the Chief of Staff of the Finnish Air Force. ” In this year’s exercise we were able to train the whole chain of functions required for the execution of air operations in an efficient and safe manner, Air base operations, Command and Control, surveillance, operational command and flight operations are all functions that one needs to master.”
“During the exercise week we carried out successful large-scale air operations that included the use of our air-to-ground capabilities. An exercise that puts the performance and capabilities of all types of Air Force war time units into a test is vital to the air defense of Finland.
The main goal of Ruska exercises that have been organized annually is to train Finnish Defence Forces personnel, conscripts and reservists in their tasks in all functions of the war time air defence of Finland.
During Ruska 17 Finnish Defence Forces personnel, reservists and conscripts were trained to plan an conduct operations including the usa of the F/A-18 air-to-ground precision-guided weapons.
“Well-trained troops are key elements in our capability to fulfil our mission, BGen Mikkonen says. “Ruska 17 was an excellent opportunity to train our personnel, reservists and conscripts. A motivated reserve force that knows its duties well ensures the continuity of our operations and brings flexibility and resilience. Judging by what I saw during Ruska 17 and the feedback I’ve received, our reserve is meets these standards well.
A Test of Finnish-Swedish Cooperation
Finnish-Swedish air force cooperation has a long history and in the recent years it has intensified. In 2016 Finland’s and Sweden’s combat aircraft took part in each other’s Ruska 16 and Flygvapenövning 16 exercises.
In Ruska 17, the Swedish air force took part in the exercise with flying units carrying out both air defense tasks of Finland in the and acting as the adversary of the defenders. Earlier this fall, Finnish Air Force F/A-18s were also seen in a similar role in Sweden’s Aurora 17 exercise.
In Ruska 17, a significant milestone was achieved as the Swedish Air Force Gripen multi-role fighters were integrated in the air defense system of Finland performing their missions together with the Finnish F/A-18 multirole fighters showing significant interoperability. The air forces train together in the context of the Finnish-Swedish Defense Cooperation (FISE) that the governments of Finland and Sweden have agreed to pursue.
This ensures that the air force cooperation can deepen further in the future.
“Swedish Air Force took part in Ruska as a part of both the defensive Blue force and their adversary”, Bgen Jari Mikkonen says. “In this week’s exercise, the FISE defense cooperation was realized in our ability to conduct air operations together. We showed that both our procedures and our systems are interoperable enabling us to deepen our cooperation further. By taking part in each other’s exercises we make more extensive and versatile air operations possible and also develop our capabilities.”
The decision on Ruska 17 and its execution schedule was made over a year ago which also marked the start for the exercise planning.
Preparations for Ruska 17 also included one preparatory exercise: During week 40 in early October Finnish and Swedish aircraft participating in Ruska took part in Baana 17 air exercise that focused on flying operations to and from a temporary road base in Vieremä, Eastern Finland.
Late in the week preceding Ruska live exercise stage was also the time when most of the troops required for the event were called for service and equipped for their mission. A total of 5,100 personnel took part in Ruska 17 with 2,900 reservists included in the number.
According to BGen Mikkonen, the Ruska 17 exercise planning, preparatory actions and the live exercise stage were conducted successfully.
“The Red force provided the Blue forces with an adversary that showed variety in its actions and the difficulty level of the training was gradually raised during the exercise. The Blue force showed skills and capability of the Finnish air defense that is sure to have a pre-emptive effect on military crises.”
The flight operation of Ruska 17 ended in the afternoon of October 13. Before concluding the exercise, the temporary air base functions established will be removed and the reservists will return to their civilian duties.
“After the exercise I’m looking forward to receiving feedback and suggestions for the development of the exercise concept”, Brigadier General Mikkonen says. “I want to take this opportunity to thank the troops participating in the exercise for excellent performance. I’d also like to thank the residents of the area of operations for understanding as the jet noise caused by a large-scale exercise such as Ruska can be quite high at times”.
On October 6, 1977, the first prototype of the Mikoyan MiG-29 multirole frontline fighter jet took to the skies.
The first prototype of the Mikoyan MiG-29 multirole frontline fighter jet took to the skies forty years ago, on October 6, 1977.
The development of fourth-generation fighter jets started in the Soviet Union and in the United States in the late 1960s. As compared to their predecessors, the Soviet MiG-23, the US F-5 Tiger and the French Mirage F.1, the new-generation planes were intended to become multifunctional (i.e. to be able to destroy targets both in the air and on the ground), show increased maneuverability and spend less fuel, feature electric flying controls, new avionics and highly efficient weapons.
In the 1970s, three types of fourth-generation fighters went into service in the United States at once: the light F-16, the heavy F-15 and the deck-based F-14. These planes excelled by a whole number of parameters the second-and third-generation MiG-21, MiG-23 and MiG-25 aircraft operational in the Soviet Air and Air Defense Forces.
Soviet defense specialists and scientists also launched work on developing several classes of fighter jets for accomplishing specific missions. Under this concept, the light fighter was designed for operations over its territory and in the enemy’s immediate rear (up to 150 km). This plane was required to be easy in its piloting control, production and operation. The designers were set the task of furnishing the plane with the most advanced electronic equipment and armament at that time, provide for its high maneuverability and thrust-to-weight ratio.
The design of this fighter, which received its designation, was assigned to the Separate Design Bureau of Moscow’s Zenit Machine-Building Factory (currently, the Mikoyan Design Bureau Engineering Center of the MiG Aircraft Corporation).
In 1976, the concept design was completed and the fighter’s mockup was made. They were approved by the customer (Air Force specialists) in 1977.
The MiG-29 prototype (board No. 901) was made by August 1977. On October 6, 1977, Chief Pilot of the Design Bureau Alexander Fedotov performed the first flight aboard the plane.
Overall, 16 planes were built for trials. Two of them were lost due to problems with engines: one was lost in June 1978 and the other in October 1980. In both cases, the pilots ejected to safety.
The state trials of the MiG-29 fighter were completed on October 27, 1983.
Serial production and combat service
From 1982, the fighter’s serial production was organized at the Moscow Znamya Truda Machine-Building Enterprise while the trials were not yet completed.
In July 1983, the first MiG-29 planes started arriving for the 234th Guards fighter air regiment (Kubinka, Moscow Region).
Overall, more than 1,600 MiG-29 planes have been produced and the production of their improved modifications continues today.
The fighter jet was used during combat operations in Afghanistan, in various armed conflicts in the post-Soviet space, in Persian Gulf countries, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the former Yugoslavia, India, Yemen, Sudan and Syria.
According to public information, the Russian Air Force currently operates up to 270 MiG-29 fighters of various modifications. Up to 40 such fighters are operational with the Russian Navy. Specifically, the 100th shipborne fighter air regiment was formed in 2016. It is armed with MiG-29K aircraft, which are intended to be operational on the Russian Navy’s sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.
During the Soviet period, MiG-29 planes were exported to several Warsaw Treaty member countries (East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania), and also to the former Yugoslavia and Iraq. After 1991, MiG-29 fighters were sold not only by Russia but also by former Soviet republics (Ukraine and Moldova). Today, MiG-29 fighters are operational in the Air Force of 25 countries.
The MiG-29 is a fourth-generation multirole frontline supersonic fighter. It is designed under the normal aerodynamic scheme and is a mid-wing aircraft with a trapezoidal mechanized wing. It has a two-keel vertical tail with all-movable stabilizers.
The plane has the so-called “integral arrangement:” the fuselage and the wing form a single bearing body, which provides less drag and greater lift at large angles of attack.
Two RD-33 engines are placed in the nacelles in the fuselage’s tail section. The RD-33 gas turbine engine is a two-shaft, double-circuit motor with an annular combustion chamber, a variable nozzle and a hydraulic electronic control system. The air intakes under the fuselage are closed by special curtains during steering on the ground to prevent debris from getting into the engines.
Crew – 1 person (2 pilots in the combat trainer modification)’
Length – 17.32 m;
Height – 4.73 m;
Wing span – 11.36 m;
Maximum speed – 2,450 km/h (2.3 Mach);
Engine’s “full afterburner” thrust – 8,300 kgf;
Service ceiling – 18,000 m;
Practical range at high altitude – 1,430 km (2,100 km with suspended fuel tanks);
Maximum takeoff weight – 18.1 t;
Maximum combat load weight – 2.18 t.
The aircraft is furnished with a GSh-301 30mm gun (an ammunition load of 150 rounds) and can carry various types of air-to-air missiles (R-27R, R-73 and R-60M), rockets and air bombs at six underwing nodes.
Modified MiG-29 fighters are also capable of using Kh-29, Kh-31 and other air-to-surface missiles.
Over twenty modifications of the MiG-29 fighter have been developed, including the following:
MiG-29UB two-seat combat trainer (Item 9-51);
Item 9-13 with the increased fuel supply, a new electronic warfare complex and an active jamming system;
MiG-29S (9-13S) with an upgraded armament control system and the capability of using R-77 missiles;
Deck-based MiG-29K (9-41) and MiG-29 KUB (9-47) fighters;
MiG-29M (9-15) – a heavily upgraded version with the flight range increased to 3,200 km;
MiG-29SM/SMT (9-14/9-15) with the capability of using air-to-surface precision weapons;
MiG-35 – the generation 4++ multifunctional fighter with a new phased antenna array radar, a new engine control system and the reduced cost of its operation.
The Finnish Defence Forces’ Logistics Command sent a Request for Information (RfI) on weapons and other equipment regarding the HX fighter project to the governments of seven countries to be forwarded to their respective industries. A request for a quotation (RfQ) will be drawn up on the basis of the responses received.
The main goal of the RfI is to determine what capabilities will be available to meet Finland’s estimated future needs and therefore the focus is on available potential and capabilities in the post-2025 period. RfIs were sent to a number of government representatives in France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Norway, Sweden and the United States to be further sent to designated companies.
The weapons and equipment will be procured on a separate contract alongside the aircraft and RfQs on them will be sent in spring 2018. The decision on the weapons and equipment will be made as part of the decision on the aircraft type. Procurement contracts are scheduled to be signed in spring 2021. Since the estimated total price to replace the Hornet fleet will also include weapons and sensors, the negotiations to procure them will be scheduled to take place alongside negotiations to procure fighters; this will ensure that aircraft-specific systems will be managed. It will be possible to use some of the systems in several multi-role fighters and this will be an important factor to consider in the contracts.
The official RfQ to replace the Hornet fleet will be made in spring 2018 after five aircraft producers who have responded to the RfIs have been selected. Testing the suitability of different fighters in Finland’s conditions will be started in 2019 and the final procurement decision will be made in 2021. The decision will be based on four considerations: military capabilities of the multi-role fighter, security of supply chain and industrial cooperation, life-cycle costs, and security and defence policy considerations.
The new multi-role fighters will be introduced in 2025-2030, at the same time as the Hornet fleet will be decommissioned.
The United Arab Emirates wants to buy over a squadron of Sukhoi Su-35 advanced fighter jets from Russia and the contract may be signed by the end of 2017, a source in the system of military and technical cooperation told TASS on Tuesday.
“They want a lot, over a squadron but the exact number will be specified in the course of negotiations that may be held in November during an air show in Dubai,” the source said.
The relevant contract may be signed by the yearend, if the negotiations are successful, the source said.
TASS does not yet have an official confirmation of this information.
A squadron is a tactical Air Force unit, which consists of formations and wings and also comprises aircraft maintenance personnel. A fighter aviation squadron in the Russian Air Force normally comprises 12 aircraft but their exact number depends on the type of an aviation regiment.
The Su-35 is a Russian-made multipurpose generation 4++ super-maneuverable fighter jet equipped with a phased array radar and steerable thrusters. It can develop a speed of up to 2,500 kilometers per hour and has a flying range of 3,400 kilometers and a combat radius close to 1,600 kilometers. The fighter jet is armed with a 30mm gun and has 12 hardpoints for carrying bombs and missiles.
The UAE currently has 49 Mirage 2000-9/EAD/RAD and 55 F-16E fighter jets in it’s combat aircraft inventory.
Russia’s first two of six fighter jets MiG-29 have been delivered by a cargo aircraft to a military airport near the Serbian capital of Belgrade, the Serbian Defense Ministry announced in its statement on Tuesday.
The Russian fighter jets were delivered by an Antonov An-124 military transport aircraft to Serbia’s Batajnica Air Base, located some 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) away from Belgrade.
“Two MiG-29 aircraft were handed over to the Serbian Air Force,” the statement said. “Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin, Chief-of-Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces Ljubisa Dikovic and Air Force Commander Ranko Zivak were present at the Batajnica air field as the An-124 plane landed.”
Defense Minister Vulin told journalists at the airport that on July 4 Russia stated its intentions to begin delivering warplanes to Serbia starting on October 2.
“As you all can see, it did happen on October 2,” Minister Vulin said. “Four remaining fighter jets will arrive before Friday and we can now proudly state that our Air Force received new combat aircraft for the first time since 1987.”
“It is extremely important that we are managing to make our armed forces stronger, more organized and modern,” the Serbian defense minister added.
Serbia is receiving six Mikoyan MiG-29 (NATO reporting name: Fulcrum) fighter jets from Russia on an earlier agreed gratuitous delivery between two countries.
According to reports earlier in the year, the delivered to Serbia aircraft were to undergo maintenance works either in Russia or to be taken care of by a team of Russian specialists in Serbia. The upgrading of the combat aircraft was reported to be carried out for Serbia in three stages at the price of 180-230 million euros ($211-270 million).
During the MAKS 2017 airshow in July outside the Russian capital of Moscow, Head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation Dmitry Shugayev said that Russia was planning to complete the delivery of MiG-29 fighters to Serbia by the end of 2017.
Belarus was also reported earlier to deliver eight MiG-29 fighter jets to Serbia in 2018 free of charge, but on the condition that Belgrade had to pay for their overhaul and maintenance.
Belgrade also signed earlier in the year a contract to purchase nine H145M combat aircraft, manufactured by Airbus Helicopters.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan suggested Thursday that Canada would not consider a Boeing product for any future fighter jet and that the door on the company’s involvement in other future Canadian military procurements is close to being shut.
The move comes after the U.S. government hit Bombardier with duties of almost 220 per cent on its C-Series passenger jets. That penalty came as a result of Boeing’s complaint that Bombardier was selling the C-Series in the U.S. at a lower cost because it received subsidies from the Canadian government. Bombardier is selling the planes to Delta Airlines.
But the move is being seen in the Canadian government as an attempt by Boeing and the Trump administration to undercut Canada’s aerospace industry. Boeing receives significant subsidies in the U.S. In addition, Boeing does not make aircraft similar to those Bombardier sold Delta.
Canada has put on hold its planned purchase from Boeing of 18 Super Hornet jets to be used as an interim fighter for the RCAF.
Sajjan on Thursday suggested Boeing will not be considered for other Canadian defence procurements.
“Rest assured. We cannot do future business with a company that is threatening us,” he told reporters. “We have a lot to invest with our procurements. We work with trusted partners.”
Sajjan has said Boeing is not a trusted partner.
Will Boeing be banned from the competition for a full fleet of 88 fighter jets?
“Our government is not going to allow our aerospace sector to be attacked in this manner,” Sajjan responded. “We can’t do business with a company that treats us in this way.”
It would be legally difficult for Canada to freeze out Boeing from competing on the future fighter jet replacement. But requirements for a future fleet could be written in a way that could prevent the Boeing Super Hornet from being selected.
The British government has also warned that Boeing may face some difficulties on future defence contracts in the United Kingdom. “Boeing is a major partner of the defence and one of the big winners of our last review of defence contracts, so this is not the attitude we expect from a long-term partner,” the UK’s defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon warned.
He noted that it has won large contracts from the British government for new aircraft. Those include Apache helicopters and maritime reconnaissance aircraft. “They are going to apply for other defence contracts, and this type of attitude could clearly endanger our relationship “, Fallon pointed out.
Boeing officials say defence procurement should not be linked to other commercial actitivities.
Marc Allen, Boeing’s president of international business, said the company took its action to ensure a level playing field in the aerospace industry. He said Boeing believes that global trade only works if everyone plays by the same rules. That wasn’t the case for Bombardier, he added.
But Canadian government officials privately note that a duty of almost 220 per cent on Canadian aircraft is not a level playing field but protectionism by the Trump administration.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had some of his toughest language yet for Boeing in the ongoing trade dispute that has affected the purchase of Super Hornets as interim fighter jets.
“We have obviously been looking at the Super Hornet aircraft from Boeing as a potential significant procurement of our new fighter jets,” Trudeau said Monday. “”But we won’t do business with a company that’s busy trying to sue us and trying to put our aerospace workers out of business.”
“Boeing is not suing Canada. This is a commercial dispute with Bombardier, which has sold its C Series airplane in the United States at absurdly low prices, in violation of U.S. and global trade laws. Bombardier has sold airplanes in the U.S. for millions of dollars less than it has sold them in Canada, and millions of dollars less than it costs Bombardier to build them.
This is a classic case of dumping, made possible by a major injection of public funds. This violation of trade law is the only issue at stake at the US Department of Commerce. We like competition.
It makes us better. And Bombardier can sell its aircraft anywhere in the world. But competition and sales must respect globally-accepted trade law. We are simply using laws that have been on the books for decades and subjecting them to a fair hearing based on the facts.”
Bombardier added its voice to the debate in a statement on its website entitled, “Boeing’s Hypocrisy.”
“Bombardier shares Boeing’s commitment to a level playing field, but in this case, they were not even on the field. Delta ordered the C Series because Boeing stopped making an aircraft of the size Delta needed years ago.
Boeing’s self-serving actions threaten thousands of aerospace jobs around the world, including thousands of U.K. and U.S. jobs and billions of purchases from the many U.K. and U.S. suppliers who build components for the C Series.
The U.S. government should reject Boeing’s attempt to tilt the playing field in its favor and impose an indirect tax on the U.S. flying public through unjustified import tariffs.”