This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Justin Trudeau's Liberal Government is its Own Reality

"This gives Canada the wrong aircraft forever or certainly for the next generation. The fact is that there is no urgent need to bolster the fighter force right now."
"I assess the situation as entirely political. Nobody will even have this discussion a year from now. It is becoming more and more obvious every day that it [F-35] is the best aircraft."
"If you do get the Super Hornet in 2016 that would be an upgrade on our CF-18s. Nobody would argue with that. But it is not going to be updated. The manufacturing process is shutting down and pretty soon the Super Hornet will be frozen in time."
"The F-35s will have parts and be maintained for five decades. The beauty of the F-35 is that 15 to 20 countries are getting it. Many of them will be working on better radars and more stealth."
Retired Canadian senior air force officer (speaking confidentially, anonymously)
A photo released by aeronautical manufacturer Boeing shows Super Hornet fighter jets during tests at an unidentified location.
Boeing/AFP/Getty Images    A photo released by aeronautical manufacturer Boeing shows Super Hornet fighter jets during tests at an unidentified location. 
Once people are retired from elite public offices they often speak in public of what it is about the regime they were part of with which they disagree. Since they are retired, they risk little in the way of whistle-blowing, career-ending revelations. This particular individual, interviewed by noted journalist Matthew Fisher for Postmedia chose to conceal his identity from the public, thereby placing in question his motivation and his personal courage.

Despite which, as a professional airman who has had extensive personal experience flying CF-18s and CF-104 Starfighters in the High Arctic and throughout Europe, he would most certainly know whereof he speaks in regard to reliability and capacity and the pursuit of a goal using the most workable tool to achieve optimum success. As far as the politics involved, his experience holding key staff positions within the Air Force would qualify him to make certain judgement calls.

F-35 Netherlands Arrival
The first two F-35As for the Netherlands were refueled on their journey by a Dutch KDC-10, and greeted by a Gulfstream jet carrying Netherlands Minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert. Photo credit: Frank Crebas

The federal Liberal government's decision to commit to the purchase of Super Hornets as a stopgap solution to the problem of elderly aircraft requiring replacement, sees it prepared to make that commitment without resorting to a competition. Something had the Conservatives done it would have raised howls of outrage from the Liberals. The reason for that seems clear enough; in a competition the aircraft they've chosen would lose out to the aircraft they're rejecting. And they are rejecting that superior aircraft for the simple reason that it was championed by the preceding government.

That, and the fact that Justin Trudeau pledged during the election campaign last fall that his government would not commit to the F-35, despite the investment in time, cooperation and funding already having taken place, where Canada, along with the United States and other countries in NATO selected that plane as the most suitable and most technically advanced for future needs. The Liberal government made it mandatory to polish their credentials as the permanent Canadian government returned, to upturn as much of the Conservative government's decision making as possible.

Not because all those Conservative initiatives were bad for Canada, but because they were not Liberal-initiated, as the 'natural governing party' of the country. Canada requires defensive aircraft as a NATO member and for its ability to defend its position in the hotly contested Arctic where Canada's claims are part of its historical heritage. The Royal Canadian Air Force had informed a parliamentary committee that the current CF-18s could be safely operated until 2025, meeting Canada's obligations to NORAD and NATO.

The sticking point for the commitment to the F-35 has been its cost. And that sticking point is no longer a factor since the price has dropped substantially, making it only marginally more costly than the Super Hornet, a decidedly inferior machine and investment. When the defence community speaks of the government's actions on this file, the words 'repugnant, deceitful and dishonest' are front and centre.


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