Speaking from within the Canadian context, some years ago, when the Government of Canada "bought-in" to the program, it did so on a "second tier" level. Which is to say: It was the United States Air Force and Navy, along with the UK's RAF and the UK Navy, that actually sat down together (sort of), and drew-up the operational requirements. They did not carefully consider the requirements of any of the other eight (lesser) partner nations. As a result, we've got the JSF-35, much as it is, or will likely (hopefully) be, potentially, if everything improves dramatically, except for the threat environment, which should hopefully soften somewhat
(Yeah, I know, it's wishful thinking.......)
More specifically, because the "Royal Canadian Air Force" must patrol large expanses of Artic airspace, where there are few airfields or alternate landing strips, an essential requirement for such an aircraft used to be
that the patrol aircraft should have at least two
engines, so that an engine failure wouldn't necessarilly result in a lost aircraft. As you know, the JSF-35 has only one engine, because neither the Americans nor the Brits seem too worried about engine failure
(Yeah, I know, it's wishful thinking.....)
Additionally: If you follow the link I provide in my post just above; you'll note that a hastilly-prepared document outlining operational requirements of the RCAF includes a 360-degree IR sensor fusion with the helmet, which Lockheed Martin has officially given-up on for the JSF-35, for the time being. LM is now funding the development of a 'lesser' helmet-sensor fusion. This too was deemed to be a "mandatory requirement", and so LM dropping this feature would ossentibly disqualify the JSF-35 for the RCAF, but no......... the majority Conservative-party government now in office seems (mostly) determined to stick with the JSF-35 program.
I think the RCAF would be better served by a twin-engined aircraft, one with a 360-degree IR sensor fusion with the helmet, and which can communicate with other aircraft in the Canadian Armed Forces (which the JSF-35 also cannot do, among many other things it cannot do, and will never be able to do, because of such inherent design flaws as high wing loading and miniscule stores capacity).
On top of which, I believe that too much has been made of so-called "stealth" technology, which is dramatically over-rated, especially if one considers the capabilities of present-generation IRST systems. Furthermore; such tactics as were demonstrated by the Serbian air defense during NATO's campaign there, using "backscatter radar" (wherein radar antennae were set for passive reception of airborne cellphone-frequency signals, which bounced-off that F-117 at odd angles -- esentially using the entire cellphone network as emitting antannae, while the actual radars did the receiving to fix on the target, which was
shot down). Stealth isn't all about RAM and geometry, and even if it were, it wouldn't be "all that".
Here in Canada, a lot has been made about "keeping abreast with our allies", and I guess that's not entirely illegitimate. But, does that have to mean an unproven, as-yet un-built, and absolutely ill-fitted JSF-35 for the RCAF? Why not more CF-18s in the "Super Hornet" configuration? Isn't that supposed to be a bang-up aircraft that is actually available today, when we need it (because our current CF-18s are beyond due for retirement)?
Of course, I wouldn't personally favour the F-18 over the Rafale, but what I would most of all like to see is some kind of transparent comparison process that would include the Rafale and the F-18. As it seems so far, the JSF-35 was taken as the foregone conclusion, here in Canada, and I think it'll be a complete disaster for all participating nations.