F-35s Scrapped

So, my cousin, Mark, tagged me on Facebook in regards to a link on the National Post about the F-35 purchase being scrapped. It got me ranting and raving a bit, so I decided to collect those thoughts a bit and post them here.

Here’s what I posted on Facebook:

So, here’s the issue… Canada doesn’t have a better option and we need one desperately. I don’t know what we are going to do past 2020 in terms of defending Canadian airspace. I am hopeful that we will figure something out. We can’t continue to invest in our aging hardware, but the F-35 was the best worst option, even though it wasn’t the right option.

In buying my cell phone and my laptop, both purchases were made dealing with purchasing the best of the bad options in the market. Canada can’t afford to develop a purpose built machine for our needs and climate, and any other countries struggling with the same large land mass, arctic patrols aren’t people we would trust to buy from.

The National Post article brings up the fact that this will increase prices for other countries buying the F-35 platform (WHO THE F CARES!?) We shouldn’t have decided to buy any to begin with. How much money is now going to be wasted cancelling the contract? How much money have we already wasted prepping for the F-35 platform and weapons system? How could no one see this coming?

I have been saying since the original proposal that Canada can’t afford these planes and that costs will skyrocket. I feel like the man on the mountain, yelling to the people below, but everyone thought I was crazy…

I’m not going to say I have the right answer, but jumping in half-cocked and then pulling out half way through is just dumb chasing stupid. They all need to give their heads a shake.

BTW – After looking at the other options, the French plane actually looks like it would be the best fit for Canada. It has two engines, a great range, and potentially allows for two crew members. It isn’t stealth, but for protecting Canadian airspace, we don’t need stealth.

At the end of the day, the F-35 is a pretty great plane, and if it had been as cost efficient as the US originally said it would be, then it might have done well for most roles that Canada would have, but that’s now how things played out.

I am angry that there wasn’t more time taken at the start to think about the total cost of operation, and that they didn’t really consider what jet they would use to fill the roles Canada requires that the F-35 can’t fulfill, like arctic patrols.

Canada’s needs haven’t changed all that much from when we last chose a jet to defend us, and we should have applied the same needs and requirements to our next choice rather than just blindly following what the Americans and their partners chose to do. Even the Eurofighter was touted as the next plane that everyone was going to buy, and what did France do? They went and built their own instead.

Canada can’t afford to do the research and development required to build our own jet interceptor/fighter platform, as we only have one tenth the tax base of the US and many of the other G8 countries we serve with.

It should be interesting to see how this gets sorted out. It is a shame we’ve wasted so much time because soon, Canada won’t have anything able to patrol its skies other than drones, and as much as I love them, we need that human element in war to make decisions that you can’t make outside the situation through cameras.

Side note: This post is not as structured or as detailed as I was hoping to do. I’m in a hotel in Virginia still and wanted to get my thoughts out while they were fresh. Sorry for my ranting…

3 responses to “F-35s Scrapped”

  1. The decision to buy into the F-35 program was purely political – I mean who *doesn’t* want a cool stealth fighter, and the ability to say “me-too” to the other nations?

    I’m not entirely sure Canada needs fifth-generation fighters. I’d look at Super Hornets (still being made today) or perhaps some of the European offerings.

    For example, when Canada reversed it decision to get rid of tanks and bought a a bunch of Leopard 2A4s instead the latest, greatest – although we did borrow twentyish 2A6s from the Germans to help in Afghanistan.

    We don’t need latest/greatest. We need what will work the best for our needs and budget. I was also concerned that 60 F-35s wasn’t going to be enough over long term – when we bought the CF-18s, we purchased ~140 of them – now, true, that was the cold war, but today we can barely muster twenty aircraft for deployment abroad without stripping ourselves bare – we have less than 80 available now.

    I’d even be open to looking at a mix of aircraft – whatever meets the need.

    First, we need to define what the military needs.

    • I think the hard part of dealing with our military needs is that most Canadians are under educated arm chair critics. Most people I talk to in the armed forces want us to have the best equipment money can buy to support our troops and protect them from harm, and while I understand that, I still have a hard time seeing so much money spent on such aggressive military technology.

      I agree that the super hornet seems like a good idea, especially since it is closer to what we already have that it won’t require the same re-training to support, fly, and repair.

      We also have had limited discussions about drones for northern patrols of Canada or intelligence support for our troops. These planes should only be in play for combat roles, instead of using them for everything.

      Also, I’ve read information that the costs don’t include what will likely be a mandatory refit with new electronics about half way through its life. And of course we will want better weapons packages as they become available….

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