Wednesday, 5 June 2013

So... The fighter "reset" is a sham, then?

Well...  After Saab declined to participate in the Canadian government's "questionnaire" on the grounds that the Canadian fighter selection process is entirely skewed toward the F-35, it now turns out the the "National Fighter Procurement Secretariat" was entirely pointless is the first place.  To put it simply, the "Secretariat" was to merely collect information, then hand that information to Prime Minister Harper and his gang, without recommendation.  After which, the Tory government would likely just continue on with the JSF program that they have never actually left yet.

So why all the smoke and mirrors?  Is it to cover the fact that the F-35 was selected without seriously considering the options?  Or is it a stalling tactic to cover the fact that the F-35 is so behind schedule that there is no possible way for Canada to replace our CF-18 fleet by 2020?  Or maybe it's to draw attention away from the the original $9 billion price tag has now been more accurately shown to be $46 billion instead?  What about the JSF's disappointing performance thus far, with the USAF stating it is not ready for combat or even training?

$9 billion?  If only!
Make no mistake:  The current Conservative government merely wants to defer the fighter selection until the next election.  By then (2015-2016), Canada's current CF-18s will be in dire need of replacing, and waiting another 2-3 years for a proper and fair open competition will not be an attractive option.  Instead, the F-35 will be the only feasible choice, especially after Canadians have already dumped over a third-of-a-billion dollars so far, with plenty of Canadians working for Lockheed and singing the F-35's virtues, sometimes dubiously.

So why should Canadians care?  The F-35 looks cool enough, and it sure will be nice to use the same equipment as the 'Muricans, won't it?  Does it really matter what fighter we get?  After all, we're only getting 65...  That's barely a token force, and the good ol' USA will come to our rescue if we get into trouble so long as we keep playing nice with them and help them "police the world" from time to time.  Why should we care?  Because this is our money.  We should have some say in how it is spent.  Do we  give it to Lockheed in the hopes they will throw a few pork barrel job crumbs our way?  Why dump money into a bloated, unproven, over budget, overdue, stealth fighter; when there are so many other Canadian military projects in desperate need of attention?

Can we meet somewhere in the middle?

Canada needs to fix it's military procurement process.  It needs to figure out what role it wants its military to provide.  It needs to figure out what equipment it needs to fulfill this role.  Canada needs an open and fair fighter competition to find the most suitable and cost effective CF-18 replacement.


  1. Canada never officially left the JSF program. So I don't think you understood exactly what the reset was. If Canada actually wanted to do a "hard reset" they would first withdraw from the program. however having already invested so much they would lose all that and have to rebid if they held a contest and the JSF won. which would be a disaster financially and embarrassing to boot.

    It really should have been obvious. In the end Canada knows it gets the best deal with the F-35, which is why they refused to burn the bridge. The classified access to the F-35 by the government and air force gives the F-35 an edge, but of course they can't share that with the public. Its always been the JSF. so politically and tactically its a no brainer.

    The reset was marriage counseling not a divorce and look for new mate.

    1. So what was the point of it then? It never left the JSF program, nor did it have any intention to. Other than giving the impression of "warm fuzzies" and providing lip service to the Canadian public, I don't see the value in the reset. If the F-35 is such a superior choice, why not prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt and have an open competition? Why does there seem to be such an aversion to actually comparing it to other jets on the market. I guess we may never know.

      The closest the F-35 has come to an actual "fly-off" is the during prototype development when the X-35 (not F-35) flew against the X-32. The X-35 handled itself well, but was unburdened by internal weapon carriage, radar, or other advanced systems that are proving troublesome now.

    2. Hi!

      Some facts:
      1/ Canada cannot know if it gets the best deal without a true competition.
      2/ A competition can be done without withdrawing from the program (==> see Denmark or Netherlands)
      3/ F-35 edge could be found thinner than expected: in the Netherlands, several years ago, F-35 at paper stage had only a marginal advantage over the competitors...

      On the political side though, I agree entirely: JSF or a mix between Super Hornet and JSF remain the only choices in my opinion. As I have already said, a European win in Canada is not far from impossible. That’s bad for Europe. That’s bad for Canada. That’s good for the USA.

  2. I guess we will just have to elect an anti F35 government. How do he Liberal stand on the F35?


      Other than calling for Peter MacKay to resign, they are calling for an open competition.

      The NDP platform (as of 2011) is similar, as well as producing a proper defense "White Paper" to determine Canada's military needs over the long term.

      I'm hesitant to endorse one political party over another, especially since they often promise one thing only to deliver another, but I find myself agreeing with the NDP on this one, Canada needs a new defense White Paper to figure out its role in a post-Cold War, post 9-11 world.

      Of course, what the party's platforms will be next election, is anybody's guess...

  3. Here is a part of a dutch documentary on the F 35. This lad is perhaps a bit to negative but many aviation experts ( like you Doug) are pointing on the same weaknesses on the plane.


    Foreign defence attaches in Washington also emailed the Canadian embassy seeking answers, with an official with the Dutch Embassy in Washington writing: “In the Netherlands this report is already used by the factions which are against the F-35.”

    In response, National Defence director general Wendy Gilmour sent an email to Canadian diplomats and defence attaches in Washington, Brussels, London and other cities in which they were told to “emphasize” that the issue was “tied primarily to internal Canadian bureaucratic processes.”

  5. some news :

    What do you think about it?