Canadian Defense Minister in Hot Water as Canada Caps F-35 Funding
April 9, 2012 9:59 AM
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MacKay sits in F-35 cockpit
(Source: The Star)
Canada still unsure of F-35 program
The reaction of some Canadian citizens and lawmakers has been mirroring the reaction we've seen in United States over the F-35 program. There's a lot of uproar over continually rising costs of the program and in Canada. There have also been allegations that some government officials knew the cost the program would be significantly more than originally promised, yet said nothing.
Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay has recently admitted that he knew the F-35 fighter program could cost as much as $25 billion. That price is billions of dollars more than the Canadian officials have publicly acknowledged. However, MacKay maintains there was never an effort to mislead Canadians on how much the project would cost.
MacKay maintains that the $10 billion difference between what the F-35 program has been officially acknowledged to cost and what the program could really cost is an accounting difference. The cost for Canada to purchase 65 F-35 fighters was originally said to be $15 billion. Some of MacKay's opposition in the Canadian government have gone so far as to request his resignation over the price row.
According to MacKay, the $10 billion difference is money the Canadian government already pays for things like fuel, salaries, and maintenance of the fleet of CF-18 fighters the F-35 replace.
“Yes, and it was explained to me just that way,” MacKay said.
“The additional $10 billion was money that you could describe as sunk costs. What we’re paying our personnel and the fuel that is currently being expended in CF-18s, jet fuel, maintenance costs — what we’re currently spending, so not part of a new acquisition,” MacKay said.
He continues saying that similar accounting methods are used in acquisition of other military hardware.
“I don’t agree that there was a manipulation of information,” MacKay continued. “Of course ministers are responsible for what takes place in their department. I’ve acted in good faith, always with an eye to providing the men and women in uniform with the best equipment that we can possibly get.”
While MacKay fights allegations that he misled Canadian citizens on the price of the F-35, other officials in the Canadian government still maintain that additional oversight of acquisition will be performed. Conservative party Prime Minister Stephen Harper noted last week that Canada has signed no contract to purchase the F-35. That statement hints that Canada could reduce the number of F-35 that purchases. Cuts in proposed
have been talked about in the past.
“The auditor-general has identified a need for greater independence and supervision over some of the activities of the Department of National Defence,” Harper said. “The government will put that supervision in place before we proceed.”
The amount of funds assigned to purchase 65 F-35 aircraft has also been capped. The cap placed on the purchase is C$9 billion, which works out to about $8.9 billion in the US. That funding includes money spent for the acquisition of associated weapons, infrastructure, initial spares, and training simulators.
“Funding will remain frozen and Canada will not purchase new aircraft until further
, oversight and transparency is applied to the process of replacing the Canadian Forces’ aging CF-18 fleet,” Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose said in a statement.
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RE: McKay will be fine...
4/9/2012 2:29:38 PM
Here we go, yet again.
Although I agree that the cost of these planes has ballooned, the simple fact of the matter is that there is
no other fighter jet on the planet
that is capable of doing the job. What job is that, you may ask? Answer: functioning as a leading-edge fighter jet that can be expected to give your pilots an edge, and win almost any engagement (save, of course, against the F-22). If Canada wanted to simply patrol its borders, it would buy a Tupolev Bear for crying out loud. It does not. It wants a competitive fighter jet.
Nay-sayers love to point out that other fighter jets are cheaper. Yes, of course this is true. But no other jet on the market today (read: for sale) has stealth, and stealth is the ultimate make-or-break technology. Why on earth would you want to buy buy something that would
you to enter an air-to-air engagement when stealth could keep you out of the fray, comfortably launching your missiles from stand-off distance before your enemy even knows you are there? And up against an actual, stealthy enemy, what do you think would happen? Get ready to pull the ejection handle, your shiny new Eurofighter is about to go down.
Think about it. Sure you could buy cheaper planes - F-18's, F-15's; heck you could buy F-111's or Tornado's for that matter, and they will do roughly the same job - but what is Canada seeking to achieve? The ability to send up fighter aircraft when necessary and win an air-to-air engagement, or penetrate enemy airspace and conduct air-to-ground operations. Why do you think it bought the F-18 when it came out in the early 1980's? It was a leading-edge aircraft at the time that served Canada well for almost 30 years.
You want to see a waste of money? Buying a fighter aircraft without stealth technology would be the ultimate waste in taxpayer dollars. Watch it get blown out of the sky by a stealthy aircraft before it even has the ability to acquire it on its radar. Come on people.
The F-35 is the ONLY fighter aircraft worth buying today. Anything else is a waste of taxpayer money, and will be obsolete the second it rolls off the production line. Let's give this silly argument a rest and let Canada buy F-35's.
RE: McKay will be fine...
4/9/2012 3:03:44 PM
All of your points only make sense for an aggressive nation like the US. Exactly whose stealth aircraft are Canadian F-35's ever going to go up against where US air superiority fighters like the F-22 aren't already going to be out in force? In EVERY engagement where CF-18's have been used, total air dominance was already achieved by the US and the CF-18's were just slipping in and hitting ground targets.
When you look at Canada's role in the world, the F-35 just doesn't make any sense; it's not the right plane for Canada, period.
RE: McKay will be fine...
4/9/2012 9:48:45 PM
We don't know whether the F-35 is the only plane capable of doing the job.
For that matter, we don't even know exactly what is the job they're supposed to do.
The Auditor General’s report highlights that Conservative ministers announced the F-35 purchase in July 2010, a month before Public Works actually received the statement of requirements that purported to show why the F-35 was the only possible option.
The DND did an analysis in 2008 and determined the F-35 was the best choice. It has never provided documentation to explain that choice, and as the AG has reported the department was too invested in the F-35 development to objectively evaluate the F-35 (it would be in part evaluating its own work).
The statement of operational requirements, which sets out the job the plane is supposed to do, was only approved by the DND a month before the Conservatives announced the purchase in July 2010.
The DND had recommended the F-35 as the best plane in 2006.
In other words, the requirements of the job were written four years after the DND recommended the F-35, by the people who were involved in developing the F-35.
Maclean's had a rather good article on the failings of the F-35 procurement process in January of 2012. Its accuracy is greatly bolstered by the Auditor General's findings.
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