So I just read an article that says Canada is going to buy sixty-five Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets and at one time, I might have been excited about this, but since the fighters were first created, a number of issues with them have appeared, and for the cost of sixteen billion dollars, I think we could do some better things with that money.
The Ottawa Citizen reported earlier this week the Harper government is set to give approval to the largest military purchase in Canada’s history with the F-35, a stealth plane built by U.S. aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, considered the top contender to replace the CF-18s.
The biggest debate around the F-35 right now is being waged with military writers and others who say a big minus for the jet is the fact it has only one engine — unlike the CF-18 — leaving it vulnerable if engine trouble occurs.
Liberal MP Marc Garneau, an astronaut and systems engineer, told reporters the Harper government has to justify this sole-sourced contract, arguing there is no rush for these jets since the CF-18s have been retrofitted and are good for another seven years.
What does Canada need with the last manned fighter jets? Should we not spend the money to continue to maintain and overhaul our current fleet of planes, and then add the latest unmanned aerial vehicles to our fleet rather than buying manned jets that have been proven short in so many ways?
Nearly 30 percent of all the test flights have required more than routine maintenance to get the aircraft flyable again. Currently each F-35 takes a million more work hours than predicted and flight testing is expected to result in further design changes. The United States Navy has projected that lifecycle costs over a fleet life of 65 years for all of the American F-35s will be $442 billion higher than the U.S. Air Force has projected.
I can’t believe that the Canadian Government and Military can continue to be so short sighted and spend such vast amounts of money without true consideration for the future of warfare, and the issues and costs associated with its continued involvement. While I do believe we need defenses to protect our country, and provide support and aid to our partner countries, I feel like this purchase is just to justify the money we spent ($475 million USD) on the development of these new fighters, and not because they perform in roles and situations that the Canadian Forces requires jets to complete.
While I am sure there will be people that fall on either side of the issue, in the end, I don’t feel, as a citizen of this country, that I was given an opportunity to have my say regarding the purchase of such equipment, and I wonder if anyone else did either. This is as much my country as anyone else’s and I want to see us spend tax dollars wisely, and I am not saying that the F-35 is inherently a poor purchase, but I would love to see some proper justification on why we need to buy them, more than just “to replace our aging fleet of fighters”.
Interested in reading more about the purchase, check out this The Star article.
Interested in learning more about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, check out this great listing on Wikipedia.