Ottawa plans $16B fighter jet purchase -

Ottawa plans $16B fighter jet purchase

Tories set to unveil billions in defence spending


The Conservative government is reportedly planning to announce billions in defence spending next Friday. The biggest-ticket item is 65 jet fighters, likely the Joint Strike Fighter on offer from U.S. aerospace giant Lockheed Martin—possibly for a jaw-dropping $16 billion. That’s up from previous reports of $9 billion, and increase that is bound to draw fire from opposition MPs.

Ottawa Citizen

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Ottawa plans $16B fighter jet purchase

  1. $16B…….my tuition is going up again, I inherit ever more debt for a PhD in Engineering and my country tells me to get a job in the knowledge economy it never invests in. But that's ok because our really significant air force needed new toys. The joke of it is I will probably have to move to the U.S. where they invest in science and entrepreneurs and will end up designing big fancy toys that Tories love to buy in the name of patriotism. Also, since I criticized the sale of military items I must hate our troops and hope the Russians invade tomorrow.

    • "…in the knowledge economy it never invests in" arguable to say the least.

      "The joke of it is I will probably have to move to the U.S. where they invest in science and entrepreneurs and will end up designing big fancy toys that Tories love to buy in the name of patriotism." You do realize that the US buys more "toys" than Canada right?

    • By "my country" you mean "my government". Your government can only invest money it first takes from taxpayers and companies. Many of those companies are in the knowledge economy. What you should be advocating is that government stop taking money out of companies to feed into social programs if you want to see an increase in corporate profit (and hence jobs) in the knowledge sector.

      That is why you will find more opportunities in the US – well, that and the increased government defence spending which effectively takes revenue from non-defence companies and gives it to defence companies.

      • Effective corporate tax rate in the US is higher on average, than it is here. And that's before you add in the additional expense that US corporations pay in health care plans.
        Care to try again?

        • I know wikipedia says different, but do you have a better source for that? Because as of 2002, the Congressional Budget Office seems to think that the tax on corporate income as a percentage of GDP is 3.4 in Canada and 1.8 in the US.

          Care to try again?

          • At the risk of encouraging that type of competitive response, I might note that the Canadian federal corporate tax rate has fallen from 26% in 2002 (the date of your example) to 18% this year. The American tax rate for larger companies is 35%.

          • That's a worthy addition to what I will optimistically call the "discussion". I think there's a phase lag between corporate tax decreases and increased hiring though, so the 2002 situation would be pertinent to the hiring disparity we've seen for the past while. The current uptick in business hiring in Canada while the US languishes may well be the beginning of the effect from these tax decreases though.

    • I inherit ever more debt for a PhD in Engineering and my country tells me to get a job in the knowledge economy it never invests in.

      Actually, the Canadian federal government has already invested nearly half a billion on the research and development of this plane. Which no doubt employed a lot of engineers. Whether or not that was money well spent is open for debate. But whatever your problem is, it doesn't appear to be a lack of government spending on anything.

    • Actually, the 'joke' of it is if you do move to the us, you'll probaby wind up working in a defense industry. They're about the only ones hiring right now.

  2. I wonder if we actually took a serious look at other fighters from Sweden and Russia, or just went along with the American program out of fear of the consequences. While the Americans produce an excellent product, is it the right fit for Canada and its vast territory, or simply political appeasement to the American military complex?. I suppose we will never really know as any inquiry will be met with blacked out pages in the interests of " national security "

    • Well, given that Canada has contributed something like $475 million to the development of the JSF, and several Canadian companies are involved in the manufacturing, not to mention the R&D that went into the results of our investment, the F-35, I would hope our government would have the confidence to buy the plane we helped build.

      Also, given that the F-35 is supposed to be like an F-22 lite, as in, possessing stealth tech and air superiority without being as costly as the F-22 (the F-35 also boasts nice features like vertical take off and landing like a Harrier), it's supposed to be one of the best fighters on the market right now. The Swedes really don't have much that's a major upgrade from our CF-18s, and really, the only real competitor to the F-35 and the F-22 are the fifth gen Russian Sukhoi PAK FA, or the Chinese J-XX. I suppose you could also look at older stuff like the Eurofighter Typhoon or SAAB Gripen, but again, are those really going to be major upgrades from the CF-18? Actually, you could also look at other American products, like the F-15SE variant, which is basically a stealthy version of the old, reliable Eagle (though against your criticism of the American military complex, that doesn't change much).

      Really though, we signed on to the Joint Strike Fighter program so we could get a fighter that would suit our specific, Arctic Patrol and Air Support needs. There would have to be something seriously wrong with it, for it to make sense for us to have to go look at Russian or Chinese planes. I can understand wanting to look at other European or American planes, but those are, for the most part, an older generation of fighter…

      And I will admit that I am a bit surprised we went along with developing a plane with only one engine, since we chose the F-18 over the F-16 originally because the extra engine would be better suited to long-range arctic patrols…

      Hmm, anyone actually know how the 4.5 gen planes like the Typhoon and Gripen compare?

      • The Typhoon is much cheaper, but I don't like its weak air-to-ground capibilities (compared to the F-35). I believe it's more of a dogfighter (and a very cool one).

        Also, I believe that the stealth, and Harrier-like capabilities, on the Lightning II, are extra cost items. I'm not sure if we are getting the harrier type F-35B aircraft, but I would think that may be a bit of a waste.

        I generally agree with your reasoning, and this procurment overall, but I must say the 16 billion is leaving quite a sticker shock with me. I hope it's worth it.

        • I'm a American and have studied military aviation for about 25 years now. Honestly I think Canada's needs for a CF-18 replacement would be best served with either the F-18E/F Super Hornet or the Dassault Rafale, both have the air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities Canada needs, two engines which make it safer, some stealth and advanced senors and communications.

          My understanding of Canada's requirement is for the F-35A model which is going to be the model the US Air Force buys, long runway, multi-role replacement for the F-16

    • Why exactly would Russia ever sell us military equipment? What military equipment do we, or the US use that is Russian? You obviously have no clue what you're talking about. Us buying Flankers would be akin to the US selling Raptors to the Russians.

  3. I guess this makes sense on the assumption that we will only operate in tandem with the US in any aerial confrontation.

    My understanding is that the F-35 is ok as a mult-role fighter but not designed to operate without F-22 accompaniment. Our pilots would be helpless against a force that fields 5th generation single-role air superiority fighters unless the US (or another ally) provides the same to support our operations.

    In short, this allows us to operate in a niche role alongside the US. It's fine as long as the US actually fields the F-22, but if they don't (and under Obama my understanding is that the F-22 is being cancelled) then we'd better hope we don't run afoul of any nation fielding 5th generation fighters.

    • Strange, I'd heard that the F-35 (or at least one of the variants) was going to be a legit 5th gen air superiority fighter… I suppose it may have something to do with the differences between 4.5 and 5th gen planes (as in, the F-35 could take on F-16s and old Migs without problems, but would have to rely on numbers or tactics against the newer planes).

      Obama I think is cancelling any addition procurements of F-22s, but they have several squadrons in active service right now, so I would think we'll see at least a few where it's important enough to deploy them. And honestly, 5th vs 5th gen air superiority engagements would assume a worst case scenario (WWIII with China and/or Russia). In the conflicts vs places like Afghanistan and third world despots, I'd think that the F-35 is more than suitable.

      • Against third world despots, even the F-18 is more than suitable.

        The problem is if we go up against a capable force fielding Russian or French equipment. This is not as unlikely as you might think.

    • It doesn't take very many Raptors to gain air superiority. The U.S has nothing to fear in the air, from anyone.

      I believe the F-35 is more capable in air-to-air then you're implying here. Where did you hear that it was not designed to operate without F-22 support?

      This is only from Wikipedia, but it gives a more glowing review:

      " The F-35 is intended to be the world's premier strike aircraft through 2040, with close- and long-range air-to-air capability second only to that of the F-22 Raptor.[11] The F-35 is required to be four times more effective than existing fighters in air-to-air combat, eight times more effective in air-to-ground combat, and three times more effective in reconnaissance and suppression of air defenses – all while having better range and requiring less logistics support.[17]"

      You can look at the citations here to determine their credibility.

      • "I believe the F-35 is more capable in air-to-air then you're implying here. Where did you hear that it was not designed to operate without F-22 support? "

        From a CF fighter pilot.

        • That's not true.

          The F-35 isn't going to break through top-of-the-line radar and SAM networks like the F-22 and B-2 could, but against anyone other than Russia, China, Iran, North Korea or Israel, the F-35 will do just fine. Heck, once the SAM sites are gone the F-35 will be able to tangle with any air force in the world, even the Russians, Chinese and Israelis.

  4. If we are going to continue with an airforce we should have the new f-15 silent eagle air superiority fighter for defensive purposes, the f-35's are obviously for bombing other countries which we don't want or need to do!

    • We've used the CF-18s to bomb both Iraq and Serbia, so I think we do need an air-to-ground capabiliy. Since we cannot afford more than one type of fighter in our fleet, it makes sense to get one that is multi-purpose, like the F-35. The "new" F-15 is based on a nearly forty year old design. While very capable, it is by no means clear it has any advantage over the F-35 and lacks the F-35's stealth-lite capabilities. (The F-15 is also a combined air superiority and ground attack craft).

  5. Of course, there's a difference between this pre-announcement, the announcement, the re-announcement, and then the later quiet cancellation of the program.

    Or shorter: "How many icebreakers are we getting again?"

  6. This isn't just a case of a government announcing a new military spending project. The most egregious part is that they are going with a sole-source rather than having a open and transparent competition and bidding process.

    Even the sainted Sheila Fraser has stated her opposition to this practice.

    • It's sole-sourced because they've already invested heavily in this plane. And don't bother explaining the "sunk expenditure" concept to me, I'm more than aware of it. When a government throws half a billion towards the development of a new plane, they aren't likely going to turn their backs on it, unless an obviously superior unit is available. Presumably the air force would be screaming for another jet if they felt it were superior to this one in anyway. Obviously they want this one, hence the money we've already thrown at it.

    • It's not really "sole source," at least not in the conventional sense. The program involved a fully competitive bidding process between LockMart & Boeing, Boeing lost. Granted, the "competition" part took place at the multinational level (US & UK, mainly), but the essential feature of competition existed.

      The differences is basically that defense procurement works differently in small, mostly pacifist countries like Canada. We're not going to alter the defense market, obviously. Basically we're market takers. It's more about figuring out what we need. If, tomorrow, the DND issued a request for bids and included the requirement of "stealth", which it seems keen on, the F35 would win by default, but only after a few years of deliberation and millions of dollars wasted.

  7. Forgive my ignorance, but just whom are we going to be fighting with these? $16B of OUR money going to fight…?

    • Knock, knock…it's1978 calling trying to get its Trudeupian mindset back.

    • My friend when WW2 broke out the world was unprepaird for it, no one expected ww2 to break out after ww1, everyone had the same mind set as you, why keep a militery who are we going to fight, how close the Axis came to conquring the planet.
      A general said i forgot who "you go to war with the equipment you have, not the equipment your going to get" as a member of NATO we should keep minimum 2 percent of our GDP to defence spending as it states in the NATO treaty.

  8. This is a good first step. Now just buy 65 more after that, and about 50 f-15's and we'd be talking.

    • finaly someone with the same mindset as me :), the f-35 is a great strike aircraft that we need, on top of them we need an air superiority aircraft, f-15 SE, Eurofighter etc… a good number of them, General Rick Hiller said we need 300 fighter jets minimum to defend this country, hats off to him for speaking his mind.

  9. The 16 billion is over a 20-year lifespan:

    "But new reports indicate the total price would jump to $16 billion, when 20 years of in-service support and other costs are included."

    That makes a bit more sense then.

    • 20 years of the CBC = 20+ Billion
      20 years of new fighter jets = 16 Billion

      I know what I choose.

      • NG, do us a favour, kill off the CBC, and I would be delighted to spot another 8 billion for half as many more jets. On the spot. Win-win!

  10. Re single source. Little guys like us don't have the money to entertain competitive bidding where the biddees have to spend zillions to even make a bid.

    Anyway, I like the idea of looking at defensive fighters, not attack bombers. Even at that, who are we presumed to be defending ourselves against? I think, despite 25 years in the RCAF, that a more realistic role is ground support air, perhaps in the form of a fewground attack helicopter versions. The long-range heavy transport (CL-17) to move troops and choppers around is consistent with ouir likely role to move the sharp end troops and equipment to where it needs to go. It won't always be the Middle East. And its not likely to be UN as that organization has been made useless and politically emasculated in a number of ways as both Rwanda and Bosnia showed.

    Diefenbaker once was confronted with buying the home-made Arrow, the world-best long-range-all weather fighter at the time. He looked back and said , You see, we didn't need it after all.. Look at all the money we saved."

    Maybe this is the time to do a Diefenbaker.

    • In general, the decision to cancel the Avro Arrow is considered in most circles to be one of the biggest political and military blunders in Canadian history. And this is what you want to emulate?

      • I'm not sure that all are agreed that it was a fiscal blunder, however. What sorry state would the rest of the military have been in if the Arrow sucked up every resource available to it? Maybe we wouldn't have been able to afford ever-increasing $-transfers to the provinces that enabled them to dream up ever-more ballooning "essential" services that have ended up bankrup– oh, wait, hold the phone…

  11. $20 billion spent over 20 years on wings… with that kinda dough Ottawa could win the Stanley Cup!

  12. What the hell happened to competition? There are plenty of other, just as capable and cheaper fighters out there, the f-35 is overpriced and overhyped, what about the Gripen, Rafale, Typhoon, F-15se ? all cheaper just as capable.

    • The Martin government already committed us to the F-35 when we bought in as development partners. This announcement is not a suprise. There is no practical need for a competition, if you want to equip the air force with the most current generation of aircraft when the CF-18s have to be retired. The other aircraft you have described are all capable, but of a previous generation. The F-35s will be in service in Canada until the last half of this century. It doesn't make sense to buy anything other than the most advanced aircraft available, if we are going to insist on replacing them only once every thirty or forty years.

      • what determines a generation has more to do with the technology in the airframe nowadays, any of the mentioned fighters either have or come with the same systems ( radar/sensors ) capability as the f-35 and will still be cheaper and last just as long.

  13. The thing about these jets (if it is the JSF……well,it is), is that in order to adequately cover the Northern territories for our NATO commitments and sovereignty up there, they will need to have the large extra fuel tanks attached on the wings to make the range suitable, and at the same time taking out the stealth functionality. This takes out much of the weapons payload as well, we dont have refuelling planes to go up North with them. Also, the next gen fighter jet is basically ready – making these overpriced jets not even state of the art. One other thing is that you could reasonably assume that the cyberattacks of a few years back were targeted at these planes – any potential enemies likely know all about them. Reports of that info. being stolen were denied, but it seems very likely. The Super hornet would have been more than adequate – and cheaper.

    • The Super Hornet will no longer be in production in 2017, which is when these planes will go into service. That means spares, replacements, and possibly even upgrades become a big problem.

      " Also, the next gen fighter jet is basically ready – making these overpriced jets not even state of the art. "

      The F-35 is a 5th gen aircraft. The problem with it isn't its generation, but rather its designed role. We need something that is truly multi-role, or else we need to complement it with a squadron of whatever single-role function it doesn't have. If the F-35 is designed to work with F-22 protection then we have a problem if we ever go into battle without US support.

      • I am trying hard to conjure up a Canadian air battle that would not have US support. My sense is that this is a reasonable tactical gamble on the part of our military planners.

    • The Super hornet would be adequate today, but not in twenty years. And what "next generation fighter" are you referring to as "basically ready"? If the F-35 isn't state of the art, what is?

      No airplane will do all jobs perfectly, and the cost of the latest aircraft is frighteningly high. But in a war, second best gets our pilots (and the people they are protecting) killed. The F-35 is a project Canada has been engaged in for almost a decade. It has been the plan, of both Liberal and Conservative governments, to purchase them when they are ready, and when the CF-18 reaches the end of its life. Good for the government to follow through on the committment.

  14. Have the conservatives gone completly mad. Not enough debt for them yet. Time to expel harper and his crazies out of the country. Enough is enough. Come on opposition have some intestinal fortitude and call a vote of non-confidence. Otherwise your a bunch of lame ducks who should also be banished from this country.

  15. Wow there's a lot of fighter plane expertise on here. I have none of that but I will say that I appreciate that our government is willing to take steps to defend itself. Many times in history there seemed to be peace secured by the might of the world's greatest armies (Romans, now the Americans) only to later develop into wars. Sovereign countries must be able to defend themselves and should not rely on their neighbors to do it for them.

  16. WFT! The replies on here are so stupid. We got sea king helicopters falling out of the sky like diseased birds. We have an aging fleet of 18 hornets. SO HELL YA WE BETTER BUY F35s.

    Whats with the suggestion of buying European fighters? Why would we do that? 30% of the JSF F-35 is made in Canada. Why give them the jobs? As for the num nuts who think the government should spend the money on his tuition instead of the jets — how about if we buy the jets and then when you graduate from your loser university, you might have a job.

    • Those Europeans are offering the same deals as the Americans in regards to construction with the added bonus of offering greater technology transfer and control, meaning there would be plenty of jobs here for Canadians.

  17. there will be a war…. and Canda knows about it and is trying to get ready before anything could happen to them

  18. Now… Lets take several steps back to the late 50's here in Canada with a weak kneed Prime Minister, a US govn't wanting to be boss, an overseeing fading English Empire and a young Canada with one of the best, futuristic and still to this day best designed aircraft of its time. The AVRO ARROW….an aircraft capable of out performing any aircraft at the time (even now) and had not just 1 design plan but 3 design models. With what we are going to spend on these F35's and the additional cost of parts, labour, service, upgrades and political interference, we would be far better off to design and build our own and finally shake off our 2nd place thinking and feelings.