Author Topic: Canadian Golden Eagles  (Read 268 times)

Offline apophenia

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Canadian Golden Eagles
« on: June 10, 2024, 11:02:38 AM »
Fast-Track Trainers - The KAI Golden Eagle in Canadian Service

The Government of Canada fast-tracked the RCAF's Future Fighter Lead-In Training programme. FFLIT had been on hold for two years with the previous Canadian FLIT - the CT-155 Hawks - retiring without replacement. Then, on 17 May 2024, Requests for Information were invited by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC). Less than two weeks later, the Boeing–Saab T-7 Red Hawk and Leonardo M-346 Master were being pitched at the CANSEC arms show in Ottawa. [1] PSPC believed that, were a FFLIT contract to be awarded by 2027, new RCAF trainers could achieve IOC by 2030 and FOC by 2032.

One potential candidate was noticeably missing from the CANSEC show - the South Korean KAI T-50 Golden Eagle. However, in the background, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Canada in Ottawa was quietly proposing a deal. The essence of this deal was that the ROK could deliver KAI T-50s much faster than being anticipated by PSPC. Over the objection of Minister of PSPC Jean-Yves Duclos, Cabinet chose to embrace an unothodox military procurement option which could bear fruit before the October 2025 General Election.

The first part of the proposed Korean deal involved rejigging a stalled proposal to lease T-50s for USAF use. The revised concept was to lease a dozen ROKAF T-50s to Canada. Six would be T-50A trainers to stand in for some of the retired CT-155 Hawks. The other six would be T-50B aerobatic types to replace the RCAF's remaining CT-114 Tutor display aircraft - all of which were more than a half-century old.

KAI T-50 Golden Eagle into RCAF Service

In the Spring of 2026, supersonic T-50A trainers became available - in anticipation of the arrival later that year of the RCAF's first new 'CF-35A' fighters. In RCAF service, the six leased trainers were designated CT-250A while Snowbirds aircraft became CT-250Bs. [2] The CT-250Bs were first - becoming available for the 2025 flying season with the Snowbirds display team (aka 431 Air Demonstration Squadron). This would be the Snowbirds' final season flying the CT-114 - with the Tutors performing the tighter formation flying while the leased KAI jets flew the fast fly-over portion of the Snowbirds display.

The CT-250Bs were also used by 431 ADS to perform holiday fly-pasts along the Ottawa River alongside Parliament Hill. The Canada Day and Labour Day flights prompted political accusations of electioneering stunts in advance of the 15 Oct 2025 General Election subsidized by the DND budget. There may have been some truth to those charges. But, the fact remains, those high-speed flights past Parliament Hill were highly popular with tourists in Ottawa. And the speedy service-entry of the CT-250s may also have gone some way towards renewing Canadians' faith in their military procurement system.

Of course, from the Opposition's point-of-view, the whole escapade was a flim-flam. Where was the 'fair and open' procurement competition? Where were the industry trade-offs? (Canadian defence industry pundits were dubious.) How could this lease-then-buy arrangement not worsen Canada's trade deficit with the Republic of Korea? ('Tax-and-Spend' was the cry.) More to the point, were any close-to-retirement PMO officers remotely interested in moving to new corner offices in Winnipeg? (And could they even find Sacheon-si on a map?)

'C' for 'Canuck'? - The Definitive CT-250C Variant

Both leased T-50 types would be followed by the purchased CT-250C variant. These aircraft would be assembled in Canada from near-complete airframe components shipped over from South Korea. This final assembly was done by a purpose-created firm - CANROK Aerospace Ltd. of Winnipeg, MB [3] - which also held the In-Service Support contract to sustain the RCAF CT-250 fleet. As CT-250C numbers grew, the leased CT-250As were cycled through CANROK for disassembly and return to South Korea. In the initial plan, the six leased CT-250Bs were to follow the CT-250As back to Sacheon-si. However, as additional roles were found for the CT-150C fleet, it was decided to purchase the CT-250Bs outright. A further four CT-250Cs were also later modified to become additional Snowbirds aircraft.

Top Leased KAI T-50B Golden Eagle of the 2025 Snowbirds (431 Air Demonstration Squadron). Note that this CT-250B has its gun port plated over and wears smoke-generators on its wing tips. This CT-250B is carrying drop tanks on three pylons (almost certainly meaning that 431 ADS is being accompanied by a CC-144D Challenger support aircraft).

Bottom CANROK CT-250C Golden Eagle of 420 Fighter Lead-In Training Squadron, 15 Wing Moose Jaw. Standard finish for CT-250Cs is all-over Light Grey (FS 36375) with Medium Grey (FS 35237) for lo-viz markings. A 'Keith Ferris' false canopy is painted on the underside. Note the 3CFFTS badge onthe upper fin. [4]


[1] An annual security trade show, CANSEC was held on 29-30 May 2024. The Red Hawk began as the Boeing T-X before joining forces with Sweden's Saab to become the T-7. Two Red Hawk prototypes are flying. The twin-engined M-346 Master began as the Yak/AEM-130 - a co-development between Italy's Aermacchi and Russia's Yakovlev (which produces its own version - the Yak-130 - for the Russian Air Force).

[2] The popular name Golden Eagle was fully acceptable to the RCAF as Aquila chrysaetos is found in every region of Canada (albeit just barely in Atlantic Canada and Nunuvut).

[3] CANROK Aerospace - the operating name for the Canada-Republic of Korea Aerospace Limited - was a joint-venture between Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) and Magellan Aerospace. Ship-sets of CT-250C components for final assembly are delivered to Vancouver by sea and then on to Winnipeg by rail.

[4] The CT-250Cs of both 419 Fighter Lead-In Training Squadron and 420 FLITS wear the 3 CFFTS badge. By contrast, CT-250As wear a 2 CFFTS badge - 431 ADS being considered a lodger unit with 3 CFFTS.
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Re: Canadian Golden Eagles
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2024, 01:59:51 AM »
This is a possible real world one.  Either it or the T-7.
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Offline apophenia

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Re: Canadian Golden Eagles
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2024, 05:56:02 AM »
This is a possible real world one.  Either it or the T-7.

For sure. Although NDHQ/DAR 5 will skew the RW FFLIT requirement strongly towards the T-7A Red Hawk.

The problem for DND is that delivery of the final two USAF T-7A prototypes has now been pushed back by a year (with the USAF anticipating further delays in the programme). I'm guessing that is why PSPC has been told by DND to expect a FFLIT IOC of 2030 at the earliest. So, in my backstory, I threw in a revised deadline that pushed against those time constraints.

The only reason I could imagine dramatically advancing the Future Fighter Lead-In Trainer delivery deadline would be 'enlightned political self-interest' by the current government. Of course, that is only semi-plausible as it assumed that Cabinet has even heard of the FFLIT programme  ;)

Still, it could happen ...  ;D
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