Jet reset

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So, when it comes to replacing Canada’s  CF-18 fighter jets, the ground rules have changed so often it’s hard to remember what it was we were told in the first place.

Canadians were told by the Harper government that the F-35 was the only aircraft that could fit the bill.

Even Canada’s military admits that’s not true.

We were told the total cost of 65 aircraft would be $9 billion.

That’s not true either. Turns out, even as the government was telling us that price, they had concrete numbers that were much higher.

The Harper government then told us that parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page was wrong in estimating that the F-35s would cost billions more than the government was saying — at least $29.3 billion over 30 years.

Page wasn’t wrong. If anything, his estimate was too low. New numbers peg the cost of the jets at over $40 billion.

And that’s for an aircraft that’s not even complete yet and is running so dramatically above budget and behind schedule that even the American military has suggested it has real concerns about the project.

Just about every critic of the F-35 project has been proven to be correct, and every number and justification tossed out by the Tories has been inaccurate or inept.

What about the other things we were told about this particular aircraft, like the fact that we, for some reason, needed advanced attack fighters with stealth technology, and that having single-engine fighters with relatively short ranges would be superb for patrolling a nation that is both huge and covers large expanses of remote areas with no easy landing sites?

Is that information a lie as well?

Just imagine if the shoe was on the other political foot.

If Stephen Harper was in opposition right now, his attack on this kind of big-project, sole-sourced government spending would be nothing short of withering.

Instead, we get mealy-mouthed spokespeople suggesting the government will now have the kind of open proposal call the whole project should have had in the first place.

Face it: in joining the American F-35 project, our government took a variety of shortcuts that it can really only address by going back to the drawing board. What should be on that drawing board? An examination of what sort of aircraft best suits a considered analysis of our needs, best fits our budget and best provides safety for our military pilots.

Factors like “punching above our own weight” (something our government seems to love to claim that we do) and keeping up with the military Joneses should be off the list entirely.

We don’t need to be part of the “big planes” club, no matter how attractive that might be for our minister of national defence.

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • Ed Power
    December 11, 2012 - 17:00

    In the late 1970's when Canada was looking for a fighter jet to replace the various aircraft then in use - the CF-101 VooDoo, CF-104 Starfighter and CF-116 Freedom Fighter - one of the critical requirements was an airframe with two engines. This was considered a critical requirement because of the huge airspace the aircraft would be required to patrol in Canada, the lack of suitable airfields to operate from in the north and the ability of a dual-engine aircraft and aircrew to survive an engine failure when deployed away from home. In Europe, where the single-engine CF-104 was used, this was not a concern because of the number of airfields and autobahns that could be used in an emergency. In Canada, the long-range dual-engine VooDoo could survive a flameout or engine failure and make its way to the nearest available airfield. For these reasons, the Swedish Saab Gripen, French Mirage and US F-16 fighters were eliminated in the early procurement stages. After trials and evaluations, the CF-18 was selected from amongst the US F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle aircraft and the joint European built Panavia Tornado. So, having served in the RCAF during the CF-18 procurement period, I was stunned when the government announced that they were buying 65 single-engine fighters to replace the 138 dual-engine CF-18's purchased in 1982. Engine performance may have improved over the years, but any pilot bailing out a $150 million dollar single-engine fighter over Baffin Island still faces a long, cold walk home.

  • Critical Observer
    December 11, 2012 - 16:21

    Aside from the fact the Harperites BSed Canadians on the total costs of the F-35 program, the F-35 communications systems won’t work in the high Arctic because the signal from the geo-stationary satellites the F-35’s comm systems are designed to use fades at high latitudes. So how is this aircraft best-suited to the Harperites starry-eyed mantra of “exerting sovereignty” over Canada’s high Arctic? A squadron of long-range UAVs would be the most cost-effective means of patrolling the Canadian Arctic, but then the Harperites wouldn’t have nearly as many taxpayers’ dollars to lather up all their aerospace industry corporate buddies with. On a related note, the inept blunders involving the safety & security of Canadians during the tenure of the Harper government must be giving our allies an uncomfortable feeling, much like the feeling one would get while watching the embarassing spectacle of a friend pissing himself at a social gathering and he... you know... doesn’t even realize it. Considering the disturbing facts that it took the FBI to catch a spy in the Canadian Navy, the USFDA to flag rotten Alberta beef before the CFIA caught on, and the Canadian military instructing Coast Guard to divert medical calls from NL fishermen to an Italian mariners’ charity, and then all this after young Burton Winters freezes to death on sea ice off Labrador while broken-down military helicopters sit idle in their hangars less than 120 miles away… with regards to the Harperites naïve vision of “exerting sovereignty” and the F-35 debacle… it would appear that Nero is fiddling while Rome burns.

  • Bob Kieley
    December 11, 2012 - 14:22

    No comment

    • david
      December 17, 2012 - 13:26

      Best Newfie Joke ever...absolute gem. Well done, Bob!

  • Eli
    December 11, 2012 - 14:20

    Hey HIJACKED, you recoginzed the logic of this article pretty quickly didn't you?

  • david
    December 11, 2012 - 13:15

    Government today is incompetent, corrupt and deceitful. The more expensive and complex the issue, the more financially disatrous the result. And all that is for government with AVERAGE skill ---- then there's Newfoundland.

  • The Corporation Of Canada
    December 11, 2012 - 11:56

    Its a fair comparism. Both Governments aren't tell us the truths when they are planning to spend billions of our own money. In some provinces that are getting away with it changing the laws as they go to suite them, with absolutely no thought put into the consequences of their actions. FYI, Emera will stand to make 10 billion in 35 years if their MOU stays the same as it is today. We, NL taxpayers will have to pay 10 billion over 57 years and we haven't even sold any power, except what we will give away in return for a small tip for our troubles that government will slip back into gneral revenues or Nalcor pockets instead of putting it down on the TOTAL overall COST.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    December 11, 2012 - 06:52

    $29.3 billion over 30 years.,,,,,,,,, Doesn't Muskrat Falls cost - not $7.4 billion, but $35 billion over 50 years (operating and maintenance costs alone in the latter decades costs $200 million each and every year). So much for so-called zero cost power. Why don't our government give people the true picture and tout those costs?

    • Hijacked
      December 11, 2012 - 07:30

      Still trying to hijack other news articles to pursue your crusade I see.