For many of us, the road we follow is deliberate but sometimes three forces play into life’s outcomes: luck, choice, or fate. This is likely truer in aviation than in other vocations, at least if you stay long enough. And that is certainly the case with me and a near fatal event during an F-16 Radar Terrain Following test flying over the Gulf of Mexico when the jet suffered an ‘anomaly’ in the flight control system and pushed hard over when flying at 600 knots and 100 feet above the water.
Air Forces are realizing that bringing on the F-35 is not simply a fighter replacement program but the trigger to transform their entire armed forces into a 5th Gen Force.
Comprehensive Readiness for Aircrew Flying Training (CRAFT) and Optimizing the Human Weapons System (OHWS) are relatively recent programs supporting physical, physiological, and cognitive training and fitness within the US Air Force.
Allowing F-16s to be transferred to the Ukrainian Air Force, standing up training for their pilots and eventually converting them to fly the F-16 will solve an emotional appeal. It just won’t change the course of the war.
We all love the rock star performers who can solve the unsolvable, succeed against insane odds and triumph when people think that there is no hope. HR departments hate the people who are not like the rest of the gang and diminish or ostracize the ‘one offs’ who don’t behave like everyone else.
We need to think of fighter pilots as high-end athletes; ‘Tactical Athletes’.
Empower them to fly the most expensive and lethal aircraft in history and educate them not only how to be stone cold killers but how to train and maintain their minds and bodies to be at the peak conditions in the harshest of environments…combat.
Lots of drama in this saga but ultimately the right jet for the right price, in the correct numbers with the jet at the right point in its development and maturity.
Now that Canada has decided on which fighter it wants, let’s talk about what else matters beyond the capability of the F-35 or how much it is all going to cost Canadians…. let’s talk about jobs. There was so much chatter about guaranteed work from the other competitors, jobs that may or may not have been linked to high tech aerospace work but that would have satisfied the socialist mindset of promised work, not necessarily valuable work. Instead, Canada chose capitalism and the chance to benefit from the enormous scale of production and sustainment linked to the franchise F-35 program.
One of smartest political speeches in modern times, then candidate Justin Trudeau said: “We will not buy the F-35 fighter jet”. Strategically brilliant; that speech helped pivot an electorate in favor of Liberal party when to that point, polls ran the election as a 3-way race.