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Friday
Dec072012

Is the F-35 Dead?

Rumours are swirling around Ottawa that the F-35 aircraft purchase is dead. Is it? No one knows just yet, but it would be a shock to see the Conservative government move away from its defense of this much maligned purchase.

According to media reports, the cabinet Operations Committee has decided to kill the deal. Quite possibly they have, however, they don’t have final say as that is left up to the Prime Minister and the Priorities and Planning Committee or “P and P”.

The Operations Committee looks at issues of political significance or impact on the government. It consists of roughly a dozen ministers, many picked for their political smarts and their background, both inside and outside of politics. The committee weighs the pros and cons of government action and makes a recommendation. By itself this committee can’t kill an issue, but its recommendations certainly carry a lot of weight.

The fact that the “Ops Committee” at this late date in the process is once again looking at the F-35 contract is significant. This would suggest that something has come up which would have either impacted a previous decision made by this same committee or there is a red flag on the horizon that the government must now address.

It may very well be that the recent KPMG audit has come up with new figures on ownership costs. Some reports are suggesting it may reach $40 billion. If accurate, an amount that high (and one which is significantly higher from previous numbers provided to the government) would warrant another look at the purchase. Perhaps that is what is driving this new decision-making process.

Either way, this fighter is proving very costly both in a dollar-value sense and in lost political capital for the Conservatives. During a time of restraint and with budget projections being weak over the next couple of years, the government is well advised to take another look at the F-35s capabilities and costs and compare it to other potential competitors that may be on the market This is especially true if they can find a cheaper off the shelf model or one already in production such as the Raptor, Rafale or Typhoon.

Certainly if the Conservatives cancel the F-35 program there will be considerable political blow back with the opposition parties shouting “I told you so.” However, it would be far better for the Conservatives to make a wise decision and take the short term political pain knowing that in the long term they can spin it as a wise decision in keeping with their image of being strong fiscal managers while looking after the best interests of our men and women in uniform.

 

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Reader Comments (2)

The US Congress will not allow the F-22 Raptor to be exported; other possible serious contenders are the Super Hornet and Gripen. See also this post at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute's "3Ds Blog":

"F-35: The Canadian Conservative Government’s Lost Crusade"

Mark
Ottawa

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark Collins

Due to the integration of the US and Canadian military and industrial sectors it all comes down to LockMart or Boeing. F-35 or Super Hornet. Eurocanard Deltas are also in the $150-200 million range, so there are no "cheaper" alternatives or better deals out there, that's a false meme generated by the opposition and swallowed by the superficial and ever misinformed Canadian media.

In the end, no matter what government is in Ottawa, the next generation fighter will be American and Washington is likely to apply enough pressure to ensure that it is the one they prefer, which is the TBTF/TINA one that Washington is stuck with, which means it's the one Canada is stuck with (and has realistically been stuck with since the Chretien Liberals agreed to join the program all those years ago) which means it will be F-35.

This whole debate is simply Kabuki theater "spitballing" by the opposition, churned by the compulsively scandal mongering media and assorted hangers on. Many other issues and expensive boondoggles in the making at DND going completely ignored, in order to engage in this tired and repetitive exercise of picking one media hyped poster child (ie Nuclear Subs, "Cadillac" EH-101 Helicopters etc) to speciously decry, at the expense of any genuine analysis of the real bloat at DND, which is not hardware related.

Same old, same old Canadian Defense Procurement phoney baloney. Never changes.

note; NSPS is a much bigger problem anyways, since the Navy doesn't want or need Armed Icebreakers, cause they ain't the "Second Coast Guard" nor should they be, and neither Seaspan nor Irving are capable of building the ships the Navy needs, but are merely being given the NSPS contracts as Pork, when really the ships should just be built in Korea, Germany, Spain or Holland, and then shipped to Canada for secondary work, which can't happen of course, because the Department of National Defense is really more the Department of National Pork Handouts to buy votes with, yet all the Talking Heads seem to be blind to anything other than the jingly keys of F-35. Par for the course I suppose, since who in Canada actually ever votes based on the defense policy? There are two camps, roughly on the "Right" and "Left" respectively, and said camps are long standing, entrenched and not in play come election time, based on which Jets the RCAF gets or doesn't get, so non issue and the F-35 is still the most likely winner, no matter who you vote for anyways. Give me F-35 over AOPS any day of the weak. AOPS is the really wasteful disaster in the making, not F-35, but Pork is Pork and Irving Shipbuilding just ain't ready to build a Frigate any time soon, soooo...

December 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDucimus

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