I am a political economist studying innovation, industry, and international security. Since September 2001, I have been advising industries and ministries on their issues of strategy, planning, and policy. My work aims to inform investors, industrialists, technologists, and policy-makers on how to effect, economically, a secure future.

Recent Articles

« A Few More Thoughts on Bailing Out Defense Contractors | Main | The National Guard needs some Snowmageddon-mobiles. »

23 April 2021

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

"What's really amazing is that no one seems to have considered the possibility that Airbus would want to enter that market segment."

It's that super long (not) DC memory. Airbus first went in on the KC-46 bid, what 20 years ago? And lost on price? The proof is now in the KC-46 pudding and the pudding is a poomoji. Why wouldn't Airbus make a bid - could they do worse on another tanker project than has Boeing? Weren't DC's hometown band the Bad Brains writing/singing about the Boeing tanker project office back in '83? How low could Boeing get? Those guys were always ahead of the times.

I didn't mean to rip off
I thought it was a get off in mine
I tried to make the scence off
The plan was doomed to set off on time
The time that I was wastin'
I spent on only chasin in the pits
And now I pay the price
To make the sacrifice of the fool

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo0kE9Ov2-U

I am pretty surprised anyone can consider the Gripen E as the least costly of the entrants in Canada's Future Fighter Capability Project. The Gripen is more expensive to acquire on a per unit basis before considering the additional two eyes intelligence requirements that must be met and subsequent modifications made to the airframe/avionics, something the F-18E and F-35A will not have to do.

Additionally life of type costs are also not well understood. While Gripen E may have a reported lower per hour cost than the F-18E or F-35A it is also the least capable of the three in range, payload and sensor capability. You literally need more Gripen E to complete the same missions you would use an F-18 or F-35A to complete. That negates the cost per hour savings and that is before you also factor in the likely better survivability of the F-18E and especially the F-35A in contested environments. Canada would also require significantly more extensive mid life upgrades to maintain the Gripen E airframe against evolving and projected threats. Even CDIs unclassified assessments make this point.

Irrespective of the above, if you follow the competition to date the withdrawal of Airbus and Dassault was based on expected costs meeting the specific two eyes requirements. Boeing's absurd moves against Bombardier haven't improved the Gripen's chances, it has just reduced the F-18Es chances. Interestingly unlike the tanker competition the Canadian Govt hasn't rejected the Boeing fighter bid, nor for that matter the LM bid despite Trudeau's comments of six years ago. It should signal more about what the RCAF wants from a fighter jet, and a tanker for that matter, than what the Canadian Govt thinks is good defence acquisition policy.

"John"—this is a great comment. Thanks. I will follow up in a day or so with my thoughts back.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Accolades

  • Read only the first few pages. The clarity and eloquence of them is highly unusual. Extremely un-boring. Everything that one does not need to know seems to have been removed before publication.
    — Attorney, politician, academic, and strategist
  • I'm continually amazed and impressed with what appears to me to be some magical ability you have to synthesize a tremendous sweep of ideas and sources and to cogently streamline into a tight and, most importantly, readable essay.
    — Test engineer, Naval Air Systems Command
  • One of the most insightful analysts on issues of defense economics...
    — Senior defense industry equities analyst
  • I need a Jim.
    — DC think tank director
  • Simply outstanding.
    — Deputy Under Secretary at the Pentagon, on recent analyses of future force structure requirements
  • You and Aboulafia are the only two publicly-quoted defense consultants worth paying attention to.
    — Public policy advocate
  • You’re one of the few guys who brings me real numbers. Most people just try to blow smoke...
    — President of a major military trucks and armored vehicles manufacturer
  • You are an impressive madman whom I am glad to know.
    — Vice President and M&A practice leader with an aerospace & defense consultancy
  • One of the best strategic moves we could have made, short of starting another war.
    — General Manager, leading weapons manufacturer, regarding recommendations for using the lessons of the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq to plan the future of the company’s product lines
  • Exactly what we needed.
    — CEO of a defense buy-out firm, on market insights and financial projections regarding an acquisition target
  • Your ability to infer from open sources is wonderful.
    — Vice President for Corporate Strategy, leading armored vehicles manufacturer, on recent studies of fatality patterns in military vehicles in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • We should have done [this] a year ago, but I could never find someone like you with the right perspective.
    — Vice President for Business Development at a fast-growing manufacturing firm, on recommendations for managing the company’s problematic alliance with a Fortune 500 defense contractor