American-built F-35 fighter jets are expected to be delivered without the ability to communicate from Canada’s northernmost regions, even though the warplanes are costing the federal government billions of dollars. Defending the Arctic was one of the key reasons put forward by the Conservative government to upgrade Canada’s fleet of fighter jets, which currently consists of CF-18s. A senior official from Lockheed Martin, the company that builds the new jets, told The Globe and Mail that the F-35s will eventually be equipped with the ability to communicate from the Arctic, saying the hope is that the software can be installed by the fourth phase of their production in 2019. The Defence Department has reportedly asked the company whether a special communication system can be placed in the planes. Typically, fighter jets communicate by sending signals into space and back via satellites. Communicating in the Arctic is difficult because of a lack of space satellites in the region.
Monday, October 24, 2011