I can't express how happy I am with the response this site has gotten. The Facebook group has far exceeded any expectations both in the amount of members and the quality of the posts there. There has been some excellent, intelligent discussion along with some nice camaraderie among a bunch of folks who just happen to like airplanes.
|Future jet fighter blogger...|
Of course, there has been the occasional naysayer as well. One of the blogger tools lets me see who is linking to the site and from where. Out of sick curiosity, I can trace the link back and see what some others are saying about the site. Many are positive, some are just presenting it as "hey, what do you think of this?" and some are quite negative... Hey, it's the internet.
What surprises me most about much of the negativity is that it is often not backed up with actual facts, research, or even a coherent argument. Most of it centres on "Canada will always buy American" (not true) and "The F-35 is going to be the coolest! Just you wait!" Then there are the statements that are backed up by Lockheed Martin PR releases, right-wing think tank articles, and (god help me) anonymous forum posts. These same people will then dismiss well-established news agencies like Reuters, Time Magazine, and Wired as being biased and ignorant on the subject.
Being dismissed puts me in good company however. I was once called "a wannabe Canadian APA (Air Power Australia)". I took this as a compliment. Yes, the Air Power Australia website is controversial, but its articles are thoroughly researched with plenty of evidence to back up their opinions. Pierre Sprey, an outspoken critic of the F-35 program, is often dismissed as some sort of doddering old man, who's thoughts on military aircraft are stuck in the 50s... Never mind the fact that he was once one of the Pentagon's "Fighter Mafia" team responsible for the now legendary F-16 and the A-10. Winslow Wheeler, another outspoken critic on the F-35 is dismissed just as readily, despite a bipartisan service to both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Wheeler resigned his position after criticizing U.S. defence spending practices for being wasteful.
I will freely admit to my own bias and ignorance. I am not in the military, nor the aviation industry, so I have no "inside knowledge" about how things are done or why "plane x is better than plane y". What I report on this blog is strictly my opinion based on the facts that I have seen through researching the subject. All those hyperlinks are there to click and see for yourself. I would encourage anyone reading this to do their own investigating and to make up their own mind. My goal with this website was never to convince people that the Gripen was the only choice for a Canadian fighter aircraft, but to get people thinking about it, talking about it, and getting involved. This is our money being spent on these jets, we should have some say in it.
As to my own bias? Well, years ago when I first heard Canada was going to be involved with the JSF program, I was honestly quite excited about it. I watched Nova's "Battle of the X-Planes" more than a few times, and I was happy that Lockheed's bird won. As I've followed the F-35's progress, I became increasingly disappointed that this aircraft wasn't going to be what I hoped it would be. When Canada announced that it was purchasing the F-35, I wondered if the Eurofighter Typhoon wouldn't be a better choice. While researching the Typhoon, I kept being amazed at how well the little Saab Gripen seemed to fill the same role, but with more versatility and value. The more I discovered about the Gripen, the more I realized that it, not the F-35 or Typhoon, would be the best fighter for Canada.
Of course, that's just my opinion. If anybody is willing to convince me otherwise, I'm more than happy to listen.