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.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Canada's Liberal Government on F-35s Acquisition

"[...] In the course of the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals, capitalizing on the controversy surrounding the F-35 [fighter jet], made an ... controversial campaign promise: that they would not permit the F-35 to be a candidate to replace the aging CF-18s [Canada's current, jet fighter fleet]. And in a stunningly contradictory pronouncement, they declared that, if elected, they would 'launch an open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 aircraft'."
"Today, having won the election, they face the impossible task of reconciling these two mutually exclusive promises."
Retired General Paul Manson, former Chief of the Defence Staff
A Canadian CF-18 Hornet sits on the tarmac awaiting its next mission during Operation IMPACT in Kuwait in February, 2015.
Canadian Forces Combat Camera/ Department of National Defence   A Canadian CF-18 Hornet sits on the tarmac awaiting its next mission during Operation IMPACT in Kuwait in February, 2015

Canada is in dire need of replacing its current CF-18 fleet of jet fighters. Age-fatigue has taken its toll. The previous Conservative-led government signed on to acquiring a fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet by participating in a multinational program. What followed was controversy over early glitches in the development of the plane in its tryouts, and its initial high cost of production, eventually brought much lower due to the numbers being ordered by Canada's international collegial militaries.

The plane has, since its initial stages, proven itself to be a reliable military acquisition for the future needs of NATO members as well as other nations which have placed their orders. Yet, because it was the previous Conservative government that had partially assented to commitment, the following Liberal government has disdained that commitment, claiming that the F-35 doesn't fit the bill for Canada's needs, is unreliable and unready and too costly.

General Paul Manson differs on all counts. He gives short shrift to the government's citing of a "capability gap", asserting plans to order a temporary fix with an "interim" purchase of F-18 E/F Super Hornets, an upgraded version of the current fighter, and a last generation of the Hornet soon to become obsolete; in other words represents an error in judgement. Whereas interoperability is assured with the introduction and commitment-to-buy the F-35 with all of Canada's military allies.

"From every strategic and operational perspective", writes General Manson, "the gambit would be disastrous. Facing a future where fifth-generation fighters such as the F-35 and Russian and Chinese equivalents will dominate military aviation, Canada's air force would be relegated to Third World status. Our nation's ability to defend itself would be seriously degraded and our status as a reliable ally severely diminished."

This professional military man who achieved an elite position within the Canadian military emphasizes that close to 200 F-35s are currently in use, have flown over 60,000 hours, and eleven countries have thus far ordered the aircraft, with more contracts yet to be signed, as the preferred warplane for Western militaries. The American Marine Corps' F-35s furthermore, have been combat-ready since 2015, the US. Air Force hot on its tail.

Denmark, for example, launched its own search for a new fighter jet. The F-35, the Super Hornet and the Eurofighter were all evaluated by an independent team with four criteria in mind: strategic, operational, cost, and industrial factors. The evaluation team concluded the F-35 was notably superior in all areas of enquiry; it was less expensive than the Super Hornet, and the Royal Danish Air Force will be flying the jet over oceans and in Arctic regions alike, single-engine fallacy aside.

AP Photo/Northrop Grumman, File
AP Photo/Northrop Grumman, File    A pre-production model of a F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

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