Could Canada take bids on fighter jets and also keep the F-35 option open?

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s vow that as prime minister he would hold an open competition for new jet fighters, rather than proceeding with the F-35 deal that the Conservatives want to pursue, sounds smart enough. All things being equal, open bidding for defence contracts is the way to go.

Yet it’s interesting that Ignatieff doesn’t appear quite ready to leave the controversial F-35 agreement behind in the dust. He seems to tacitly concede that the F-35 scheme has something going for it by asserting that a Liberal government would somehow remain part of that arrangement, while sort of walking away from it.

“There is no penalty for cancelling the current deal and holding an open competition for our next fighter jet,” says the Liberal news release. “A Liberal government would remain committed to the 2006 Memorandum of Understanding that gives Canadian industry access to F-35 contracts, without any obligation to purchase the planes.”

In other words, Ignatieff suggests that a Liberal government could scrap the agreement to buy Lockheed Martin’s so-called Joint Strike Fighter—at least for long enough to check out the competition—and yet “remain committed” to the complex, eight-country MoU that sets the terms for designing, developing and, ultimately, manufacturing Lockheed Martin’s so-called Joint Strike Fighter.

But Dan Ross, the Department of National Defence’s associate deputy minister for materiel, told the House defence committee just last week that Canada can’t have it both ways. “In terms of the JSF MoU, it should be made clear that, in order to run a competition, Canada would be forced to withdraw from the MoU,” Ross told the MPs.

“If we withdrew from the MoU,” he continued, “we would lose key benefits. We would be subject to penalties, the industrial guarantees we already have would be negated, and Canada’s industrial plans with our partners would be suspended.”

So a fundamental point is in dispute here. Ignatieff asserts Canada can edge away from the F-35 consortium, at least temporarily, without ditching the juicy parts of the deal. Ross asserts that the government can do no such thing. Sorting this out is important because, as things stand, the F-35 terms look pretty favourable. Unless DND is dissembling wildly, the deal shields Canada from the cost overruns now plaguing the design and development of the jets.

If that’s true, then the real question might not be so much whether Canada might get a better deal on some other aircraft, but whether we need  new fighter jets at all. This is the point that’s been emphasized by the most outspoken critic of the purchase, defence policy analyst Steven Staples of the Rideau Institute.

“The point is that Canada does not need high-end fighter-bomber capabilities for expeditionary roles,” Staples wrote in his report Pilot Error: Why the F-35 stealth fighter is wrong for Canada. “The decision to acquire such capabilities is thus a matter of choice, not necessity. Since such capabilities are also not required for the surveillance and control of North American airspace, there is no good argument for procuring the F-35.”

The case that Canada might not need fighter jets at all strikes me as more plausible than anything I’ve heard so far about the chances of Canada securing a much better deal by considering bids from the makers of the other available jets.

 

 




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Could Canada take bids on fighter jets and also keep the F-35 option open?

  1. Back in 2001, Lockheed won the JSF contract over Boeing and a few other bidders. Anyone who thinks there is a defense contractor who can build the F-35 from the ground up for the price we are currently getting is probably not overly familiar with these cycles.

    Having said that, I don't think this is a good investment. I'd put money into ground based air defense systems, helicopter gun ships, and bleeding edge ground force technology.

    Or we could sub-contract our defense and war efforts to a bug-like alien race that overwhelms the enemy with superior numbers.

    • Well the Zerg do tend to be the most economical choice I find. ;)

      • LOL, I was hoping someone would pick up on that.

    • Mutalisks might be cheap, but our wraiths… err F-35's can cloak!

  2. First off there is no contract signed. Not until 2013. So what says that the 16 billion dollar price tag will stick. This crazy Harper government, if anybody would think twice, can't even guarantee that insane price. Furthermore, the Liberals was the same jets…but they want guarantees…on cost and life cycle…through an open bidding process. These Harper idiots are complete fools.

    • I have to disagree.It's a generation 4 fighter..and last time I looked, no other country in the world was building or developing anything close to it's capabilities. Remember that nothing worth having ever comes cheap. It's a true multirole fighter that offers Canada a sharpe edge against any future threats that may arise. and..we can never tell what the future holds. Harper is right on the money.

  3. Depends on what this agreement/deal/contract/whatever says…and of course we aren't allowed to know.

  4. Is a copy of the MOU available to the public? I'd be interested in reading the language myself.

  5. So we are to believe the same bureaucrats who were not up front about the escalating helicopter costs. And Tony Clement, who is either so dense, or feigns being so dense, he doesn't understand basic statistics, is to be listened to on this? Sorry.

    • Here we go let's blame the bureaucrats, or the diplomats or civic servants or Portugal, Ignatieff, the UN, UAE, the EU…or Stats Canada…haven't we learned anything with this government. The blowing a 13 billion dollar surplus, Chinook copter boondoggle, the G/8G/20 summit cos, what it will cost the taxpayer to move Camp Mirage out and fly thousand of extra hours moving troops and equipment and now the F-35 insanity…just to name a few..is a clear pattern of Harper saying "jump" and the rest of his minions responding "for how high and how long". the bureaucrats and the civil servants — for the most part – perform a great service in Canada….no this has all the incompetence of Harper's one man show written over it.

  6. "But Dan Ross, the Department of National Defence's associate deputy minister for materiel, told the House defence committee just last week that Canada can't have it both ways. “In terms of the JSF MoU, it should be made clear that, in order to run a competition, Canada would be forced to withdraw from the MoU,” Ross told the MPs."

    Mr. Ross is either mistaken or worse. DND had always planned to run competitive review process for selecting new fighters (as did other nations party to the F-35 technology partnership). The 2006 MOU and all subsequent amendments signed by the head of procurement for DND expressly state that the MOU does not oblige Canada to purchase the F-35. It thus cannot have prohibited a competitive bidding process for future fighter purchases. Furthermore:

    "The plan written by officers for the Next Generation Fighter Capability project called for a "competitive process" for both the aircraft and the long-term maintenance contract, according to the project outline developed in the summer of 2009. That schedule planned for the competition to be run in 2010, with a contract to be awarded by 2012, according to the project documents." Source: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/force+exp

    In essence, Ignatieff is suggesting we return to the original plan as laid out by DND itself: maintain the advantages of being a technology partner while also shopping around.

    No explanation has been given by the Harper Government for cancelling the competitive revue planned by DND.

    None.

    • The Liberals have no problem signing a MOU that they have no intention of using. They have no problem sending our troops to war with outdated deadly equipment. No problem cancelling new choppers and allowing the old sea king choppers to continue to take lives of the men and women brave enough to get in them. They dump on our military for years and still expect it to function with the best in the world. Choppers, jets, armoured personel carriers are all just part of having a millitary, I hope Iggy stays home this remembrance day and spends the day reflecting on the lives of our soldiers who died for this country.The very thought of him going out to show support of those brave soldiers makes me want to puke!!!!!!!!

      • I'm sorry, but this has no place in either polite society, or, frankly, reality. The liberals cut defense, basically in keeping with 30 years of public opinion polls that more or less see defense as one of the only places they'll accept cuts. But the funny thing is that they followed Mulroney's lead there. And then the Liberals started reinvesting as finances got better…just like Harper has done too. Wells always says there's a grand coalition on defense, and he's basically right. The dichotomy is far starker in talking points than in terms of actual purchases. Yes, the helicopters got screwed up. But the new rifles didnt, nor did the Coyote APCs, both on Liberal watches. So when they actually went to war, they actually did have good equipment.

        And, finally, saying the Liberals should stay home on remembrance day is shameful. This is the lowest form of gutter politics.

      • "The Liberals have no problem signing a MOU that they have no intention of using."

        The MOU signed in 2006 was for the technology partnership, which has given Canadian firms upwards of $350 million in F-35 contract work to date. It has nothing at all to do with purchasing aircraft.

        As for the rest of your drivel, consider:

        – Halifax Class frigates and the entire fleet of CF-18s were Liberal Government initiatives (supported by PC Conservatives)
        – Mulroney's Conservatives sold our Chinooks to the Dutch
        – Trudeau spent more on defence (as a % of GDP and as a % of the Federal budget) than any PM in the post-war period
        – Chretien cut military spending in line with every other department, but left how the budget was to be spent to the discretion of DND … who chose to pad their command staff and civilian employees vs. buy more kit.
        – There is almost no difference between Paul Martin's defence budgets and budget projections and those of Harper, save for the C-17 purchase that DND did not want or request.
        – In the post war period, ALL governments regardless of party have spent as little as possible on defence.

        Ignorant people who scream blue murder when confronted with facts make me want to puke.

  7. Only Cons would buy fighterplanes….and in a recession at that.

    • So Michael Ignatieff isn't interested in a competitive bidding process, he's really just using that as a cover to dismantle Canada's Air Force? I think most Canadians would agree that we need air defense. Why do the Liberals always think they can score votes by gutting the military?

      • Huh? You're not making any sense. Liberals, want a fair and open bidding process, that ensures some guarantees and jobs in Canada..not simple hand Lockheed Martin a blank cheque. Furthermore even the aerospace industry was taken aback by Harper's announcement. As in "What are they doing, we have no idea what is involved with whom and where?"

        • No, you're not making any sense. I was replying to the statement "Only Cons would buy fighterplanes….and in a recession at that." If that were true, this is clearly a ruse to tear down Canada's air defenses.

          What part of that doesn't make sense to you?

    • Emily, there are no purchases planned at the moment. Paying for the planes would start after 2014. As structured, most of the $16B is for longer term maintenance contracts.

      One can reasonable debate whether the F35 is necessary or whether any jet fighter is needed for the Canadian forces, but it is plain silly to base a decision on whether to fund military equipment, with an expected 30-40 yr life cycle, on how our economy did a year ago.

  8. John Geddes asks if a bidding would preclude F35 sale, eh?

    Well, John John! Who would give a flying stool! SCRAP THE CROOKED deal. Canadian Taxpayers don't need to spend their hardearned dollars to buy War Toys for the Boys on the Hill to make their retirement career on!

    Scrap this unnecessary $20 BILLION WASTE OF TAXPAYERS MONEY and enable seniors to hold onto their pensions and give veterans some much-needed compensation!

    The arrogance, drunken sailor mentality of the Harper Drunken Sailors Party is a result of spending taxpayers' money with NO ACCOUNTABILITY!

    I'm beginning to think that a Coalition sounds very sweet indeed to get rid of these Tea Party hooligans!

  9. We don't need to buy $16 BIllion worth of shiny new toys for these immature macho (with our bucks!) yahoos. They'll turn around and give the contracts to Americans and Europeans–not Canadians!
    It's shocking to see how these cowboys spend our money, eh?
    Can't wait for the election….

    • well if you cannot wait for an election call Iffy up and tell him to defeat the government along with his coalition partners on this.Or did you hear the Bloc say they will not vote to open or cancel this contract.This means too much to the aircraft industry/We all know if the Liberals were in power they would suddenly find a way to keep this contract.THEY LIE ALWAYS

    • You obviously dont know much about this program. The F35 Fighter program has already made Canadian Aerospace Companies almost $500 Million Dollars. Thats something that Ignatieff ignores. Considering your parlance about them being shiny new Toys, you are aware that they are Airforce Fighter Aircraft? not a new Xbox 360. The F35 is designed with Air superiority in mind. Again people constantly think there was no bidding process. Boeing , Lockheed and Raytheon all bid on the right to build this plane.

      Its clear that most Canadians dont follow the Military and just talk about it like its an expense to Taxpayers, ignoring our International and National obligations. Ignoring potential Wars on the horizon. Your going to regret your words if this Contract gets cancelled and we suddenly need a new Fighter jet to defend our Country or allies.

      • That contract money is great. Also, it's in no way effected by whether or not we buy F35s.

        Furthermore, there was indeed a competition to determine who would get to build this fighter for the Americans. There was supposed to then be a second competition to determine whether or not Canada would purchase said fighters. Winning the competition to build the JSF is very different from winning the competition to sell JSFs to Canada.

        Or at least, it was supposed to be, and we were promised by cabinet ministers on numerous occasions that it would be.

  10. K, when we bought our F-18s, did anyone hear anything about maintenance costs being added to the price before purchase?
    We just signed contracts for 1/2 billion dollars in the past few months to keep those buckets of bolts flying a few years more. Does anyone think that 1/2 billion was ever in the wind when we purchased them? No, because 8.9 Billion doesn't sound as horrifying as 16 Billion, and Chrétien and his cronies' ability to keep the lid on that sort of thing no longer exists. When I read 16 Billion I read disingenuity off the bat and see the whole thing as perceived hysteria from the get-go.

    8.9 Billion, not today, but as they are delivered in 5 years and beyond.
    12 Billion in LHM buying from Canadian companies…(we buy 65 but make parts for 3000).

    Hello? Can anyone do the math? They are freaking giving us these planes.

    • I thought the $12B represented the total value of contracts Canada could BID on.

      We might in fact get only a fraction of that, there are no guarantees.

      • Don't ruin the argument with facts.

    • It seems like me and you are the only Canadians who realize this. Ignatieff just looks like a dumb idiot. Anything the Cons do, he will Counter. They buy new Lawn Mowers, he will decry them as evil and promise to hold an open Competition on them. This is a guy who has Bob Rae on his team.. Id like to put them both in a F18 that has 2 minutes of gas left and fly them North.

      • It's not like Ignatieff is out in left field here. I mean, look at what he's promising. He's promising to do exactly what Stephen Harper's government promised it would do, on numerous occasions.

        You're right, the leader of the opposition looks like a real idiot pledging to implement promises made to the Canadian people by the Minister of Defence on the floor of the House of Commons. Who told Ignatieff that "accountability" means "doing what you promised you'd do"???

        Also, for the record, an F-18 with two minutes of fuel left can just be re-fueled, in-air, by another F-18 modified for re-fueling jobs. Yet another thing the F-35 can't do.

  11. Fact: CF-18s are reaching their expected end-of-life
    Fact: The multi-role aircraft that the CF-18 represents is still necessary in the Canadian military
    Fact: There are very, very few credible choices for replacement. There is the F-18c (super hornet) and the F-35. Those who think the eurofighter or gripen are options aren't paying attention to the logistical requirements of Canada (e.g. joint exercises with our primary US ally)
    Fact: The F-18c is being replaced by the F-35 in the US because it's expected life span is getting closer, and because the operational costs of the F35 are lower (e.g. fuel economy!)

    Basically, if you don't believe Canada should have an effective military, there is nothing that will persuade you that the purchase is a good idea.
    If you do believe that Canada needs to defend herself and provision the military with the gear that it needs to accomplish that mission, then you need to consider the F35 on its merits.
    Personally, I think the decision is a good one. I would hate to see a repeat of the Sea-King fiasco where Canadian soldiers wound up dead/wounded because the gear they had went (well) past its safe date of retirement and started failing.

    • I'd say I'm with you until points three and four. Maybe you could expand on those, based on the following:

      1) Why is the Eurofighter Typhoon (I won't speak to the Gripen, since I know nothing about it and few are in service) not a reasonable alternative? The Brits, Germans, Italians and Spanish (all NATO allies) are buying, as is Saudi Arabia. If the Eurofighter can contribute in NATO, much like the Typhoon did in the first Gulf War, why not NORAD?

      2) Why is the Super Hornet (the F18E and F18F variants, not the older F18C) not a reasonable alternative? It seemingly has some advantages — proven airframe/design, capacity to act in multiple roles (e.g. in-air tanker), and a proven cost structure ($60M/aircraft). What are the negatives? I ask because I don't know, and you seem to.

      3) Will the operational costs and/or lifespan make up for substantially higher up-front costs? And if others do as the Brits did and scale back their order, is the average cost per aircraft going to be $70-75M, or what the Israelis are paying ($96M), or higher?

  12. i recall the F18 purchase back in early ’80′s. that was a liberal government purchase where the maintenance jobs were given to quebec instead of going to where the most qualified facilities were;manitoba.

    the hornet was a multirole, jack of all trades design for US navy aircraft carriers.canada had and has no carriers, so why choose this expensive twin engine when we could have got the vastly simpler F20 single engine tigershark (including production rights) building them at canadair where it’s ancestor (the F5) was produced.

    this was a smaller more focused interceptor/fighter which would have cost a third to maintain and fly doing patrol and air-to-air interdiction, a role it was unrivaled at and all that canadian sovereignty required.

    now we have a deal but not knowing if this f35 version is the one which could be ship borne(vertical takeoff and landing)like the british harrier.if so, and we recover most of the purchase costs back as a manufacturer of certain parts in every f35 made, why would this deal be as inappropriate as the f18?

    • While it's true the Liberals purchased the CF-18s, it was Mulroney who ensured that Quebec got the plum maintenance jobs, when he screwed Bristol Aerospace's Winnipeg operations out of a maintenance contract they had legitimately won through a fair bidding process in 1986. Just nullified the bidding process and handed the contract over to the vastly inferior Canadair bidders. "In the interests of national unity" was Mulroney's lame reply when asked to justify the decision. The Reform Party was born later that same year. Those two events are not unconnected.

    • Has anyone asked the rank and file of our Forces what they think? Or do the senior officers who ride a desk like the RCMP decide what is best?! Where has common sense gone in this country of ours?

  13. The problem is not that the Joint Strike Fighter is too good for Canada, but that it is not good enough. First of all it has neither range nor twin engines required for arctic interception missions. More importantly, it's a dog. When they started the project back in the 90s it was meant to be the low-end partner to the F-22 Raptor. The Raptor would sweep the skies clean of enemy fighters, and the JSF would follow up with ground strikes, which is really all it's good for. Unfortunately, when the Raptor was designed the US decided that it was soooo good they would not offer it for export, even to NATO. Without export sales to support it, the Raptor became too expensive for even the Americans, and so it has been cancelled with 187 built. Meanwhile the Russians have continued developing their Sukhoi 27/35 series in partnership with India. The frontline Su-35S, with advanced IRST, stealth-defeating L band radar, 360 degree X band radar coverage, 3D thrust vectored engines and a wide array of seeker-diverse thrust-vectored/grid-fin missiles, is a serious challenge to the Raptor (please note that neither F-35 nor Raptor have ANY of the above features, and carry only the less capable AIM-120 and Sidewinder). As for the F-35, the Su-35S outturns, outclimbs, outruns, outguns, outranges and outsensors it. The prototype for the next-in-line Su-50, known as the PAK-FA, adds supercruise and stealth to the package. It flew last spring, and even Raptor will have a hard time facing it. Production will start in 2013-14 (Canada won't see an F-35 until 2016). Russia is ordering 500, India 500, and they expect to sell 1500 more worldwide (China will probably take a lot of those). We might as well buy Sopwith Camels, for all the good the F-35 will do us. Since the Americans shut down the F-22 line (and wouldn't sell it anyway) the only plane we can even consider is the Eurofighter. Unless we're really smart and get an early order in for the Su-50. We could buy 100 for what the 65 F-35s are costing.

    • Are you available to appear at the committee – they really need somebody who knows something – please?

    • Yes, exactly. There is a far better, cheaper, plane out there (insert necessary caveats here), but nobody is discussing it. Can Geddes at least ask DND why the SU PAK doesnt fulfill their stated requirements (ie. the ones that they say makes a competition redundant because no other plane is out there)?

      • Everything I've put up there is easily available on the Internet – google is your friend! Politically, the Americans would have a collective brain aneurysm if we bought a Russian plane. However if we buy the F-35 we'll find ourselves outflown by the Venezualans and the Malaysians. Getting the license for the Su-50 and building them here would be FAR better for Canadian aerospace as a whole. Canadian built Sukhois would be a serious contender for export sales throughout the western world, given the dearth of viable options today. 10% of 1500 Sukhois is better than 100% of 65 F-35s (not that we'll get 100%). The US might even buy them to back up their meager F-22 force. Now THAT would be funny.

  14. All I know is that one of the three will be true:
    1) Canadian jets will patrol Canadian airspace.
    2) US jets will patrol Canadian airspace.
    3) Russian jets will patrol Canadian airspace.

    I prefer option (1), which is why buying the F-35 is a necessary "evil". Are we a sovereign country or not? We only lose the economic benefits if we dilly-dally further like the Opposition suggests.

    We finally bought transport jets. We were able to deliver aid to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake promptly.

    There are some costs to being a sovereign nation.

    • I want my government making a very prudent decision when it commits to the largest military equipment purchase in our history. I don't want it led around by the nose by a bunch of cowboys at DND, nor do I want it pressured by the defense industry. I wasn't very confident before yesterday, but after reading the AG's description ot the helicopter purchases I now am very skeptical that the government is exercising due diligence.

    • All I know is that one of the three will be true:
      1) Canadian jets will patrol Canadian airspace.
      2) US jets will patrol Canadian airspace.
      3) Russian jets will patrol Canadian airspace.

      Of course, equally true is the fact that 65 F-35s won't be worth a single artillery shell if either of the other nations mentioned in options 2 or 3 wants to eliminate option 1.

      Also, we could patrol our airspace with any number of alternatives. Sovereignty patrols are one of the least convincing reasons to buy the F-35 imho. There are many good arguments in favour of the F-35 but patrolling Canadian airspace ain't one of them. They're slower (marginally) than our current F-18s, they have a shorter range, they have one engine instead of two (nice to have a second engine when flying over the Arctic Ocean) and they can't be reconfigured to serve as additional in-air tankers to support other F-35's on long patrol missions.

      As I said, many great reasons to argue in favour of the F-35, but "patrolling our airspace" is a particularly lame one. They're arguably worse than what we've got now in that role (though, of course, what we've got now won't last, but still….)

  15. 15 yr Lease, 50-60x Gripen NG and call it a day? God speed, Canada.

  16. i would like to see the next election be a choice between:

    $16 billion on planes -OR-

    the same amount on an arctic icebreaker and say, 5-10 years of funding EI homecare to meet the coming medical crisis.

    • I think you may get your wish. $16 million (with no guarantee it won't be more than that) versus some sort of needed military equipment and some even more needed social programs.

  17. The problem with The Liberals and people like Stephen Staples is that they are more the reactionary type, with no idea of long-term planning. History hasn't been kind to these types of people when it comes to dealing with the military. The $11 Billion cost can easily be pointed to the Liberals.

    In regards to the Cyclone, its selection was in order for the Liberals to avoid the EH-101 being selected again in an open competition. Using a civilian chopper was cheaper than a military platform in the minds of Liberals. This proved to be wrong as the costs went up in order to convert a poor platform to meet military demands. The total cost of the the Cyclones and the Cormorants means that the original EH-101 contract would've gotten us more choppers for less cost than what is the case now. As for the Chinooks, they are a response to a war that Canada was brought into by a Liberal government. The use of Chinooks (such as the Canadian ones now used by the Dutch) show that they have saved more lives by avoiding the use of IED infested roads. As such, the Chinooks were purchased to compensate for a poor Liberal strategy when going into Afghanistan.

    The idea that UAV's could cover the roles the F-35 is slated to do is still unproven. They are for reconnaissance but not for the dealing of any threats that emerge on land, sea, or the air. While European planes are cheaper, there's no real production value in Canada unless additional cash is offered up to allow for production. This could very well move the cost of a plane like the Typhoon, the F35s rival, into an equal cost. The Europeans are already having trouble selling the aircraft abroad as countries are looking at purchasing American planes such as the F-35. Since we don't have evidence that the government is paying for F-35 overruns, it still is the best deal by far. The issue of it being a bomber is irrelevant since aircraft today are being produced in a manner that one could perform the tasks of several different types.

    Its quite clear that the critics have not clue what their talking about. It would be best if the Liberals kept quite on defense matters while the media stops making Staples & co. look like geniuses. In fact, they are promoters of history repeating itself.

    • I'm not a fan of much of what the Harper-cons are doing (my Conservative MP Grandfather (pre Progressive) would roll over in his grave about Khadr affair), but you're absolutely right on this. I remember the EH-101 being attacked by the Liberals under JC (and much of the media) as 'an unecessary "attack helicopter"………. and they won an election over it. ……… leading to the current helicopter fiasco and loss of huge industry transfers for the whole EH-101 programme.
      I'm sick of ALL sides using this kind of thing as political amunition with an attitude of damn the consequences for the country, its military, its industry……….

  18. Likely it's a part of Stephen Harper's fascination with boy toy, military photo ops.
    That appears to be why tax payers provide Canada's Prime Minister with a stylist.
    On his meticulously planned Arctic photo op trip earlier this year, Harper jumped on an iceberg to chat with sailors, while three military planes; two CF-18s, & a refueling plane, flew overhead.
    Apparently at times, when men lead peace keeping countries, it's not so much about, what's for the good of a country but rather; a preoccupation with, bullying through, expensive, bigger things, as a way to compensate for their own small insecurities.

  19. Just buy the damn planes. We have to be NORAD and NATO compatible and our current fleet is rapidly becoming obsolete. I'd like to see the Tories turfed from power, and then this kind of pandering is done by the opposition and I shake my head.

  20. "Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's vow that as prime minister he would hold an open competition for new jet fighters, rather than proceeding with the F-35 deal that the Conservatives want to pursue, sounds smart enough."

    Why does this sound smart, Geddes? In 1997, Liberals signed this MoU and got us into this deal in the first place. Now, a decade later and Libs are out of power and looking for wedge issues, they are talking about withdrawing from the deal they signed in the first place. Libs do not sound so smart to me. In fact, I would say it sounds like the opposite of smart.

    And Steven Staples of the left wing Rideau Institute would prefer it if Canadian government took the money for fighter jets and bought drones instead so feds could monitor and control Canadians.

    Do you agree with Staples, Geddes, that Armed Forces need fewer items to fight wars abroad while increasing its capability to watch Canadians?

    • Why does this sound smart, Geddes?

      Uhhh, because it's what the government promised Canadians it would do? Is that not enough? I mean, they didn't just promise a competition specifically and explicitly on the F-18 replacements (though they did that too, live, on the floor of the House of Commons) but they promised that open, competitive and transparent bidding procedures for government contracts would be the standard that this government measures itself by. I know that the Harper government not doing what they explicitly said they were going to do is getting to be old news, but does no one even CARE anymore when it happens?

      Also, this whole "drones are to spy on and control Canadians" paranoia you're using in your argument is going to backfire when the Air Force starts buying drones hand over fist, isn't it? 'Cause they're going to, and given that we're only buying 65 F-35s (roughly THREE full active squadrons) we're going to need them. Drones increase our ability to fight wars abroad SUBSTANTIALLY and there are about a thousand things that you could buy that would be better for spying on Canadians!!!

      Basically, I 'm wondering if you plan to keep up the "UAVs are for violating the rights of Canadians while diminishing our ability to fight our enemies" line of argument after the big drone purchase announcement is made at some point?

    • For the last time: The 2006 MOU was for the technology partnership ONLY. No obligation to by the F-35, only access for Canadian companies to bid on contracts.

      DND itself planned to hold a competitive bid process for fighter acquisition to take place from 2010-2012. This would permit firm orders in 2013 and delivery starting 2015.

      Iggy is only saying we should do what DND planned all along (reaffirmed as recently as summer 2009) and what Harper committed to do: hold a bid process.

      Harper has not explained why he's going against DND and his own commitments. MacKay and Clement continue to issue bald-faced lies instead of answering direct and specific questions. The troops deserve better of their Ministers — especially as they're tax-payers, too.

      • This may be the last time you post this accurate context of the MOU, but I can pretty much GUARANTEE you that it won't be the last time someone posts a comment that reads as though they're completely oblivious to the truth about that deal.

        As for Iggy, arguing that he's only trying to deliver on what Stephen Harper promised Canadians may indeed be a logical argument, but then again, no one's more opposed to the promises of pre-2010 Stephen Harper these days than 2010 Stephen Harper. I can actually see Ignatieff saying "All the Liberal party wants Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to do is what Stephen Harper and the Conservatives promised to do", and Harper responding "And THAT's why I'm committed to stopping you!!!".

        Nobody hates Stephen Harper 1.0 more than Stephen Harper 2.0.

  21. Do you think it's at all likely that Canada might go up alone against a country with air defence capabilities akin to a Serbia? I just don't see any scenario in which Canada would do that.

  22. "So a fundamental point is in dispute here. Ignatieff asserts Canada can edge away from the F-35 consortium, at least temporarily, without ditching the juicy parts of the deal. Ross asserts that the government can do no such thing."

    I think the distinction is that Canada can hold a competition to decide if we should by new fighter jets–and if so which–without withdrawing from the MoU, but that Canada cannot hold a separate competition to buy jets matching the same specifications as the F-35 (i.e. a 5th generation fighter) without withdrawing from the MoU.

    • Is there a jet with the same specifications as the F35 – I thought it was the only fifth generation fighter?

      • There is no jet with the same specifications as the F35. Such a competition would be a parallel process to develop another 5th geenration fighter–i.e. if you engage in another competition aimed at designing a comparable or competing jet with other countries you are out of the MoU.

  23. Eurofighter Typhoons. cheaper, dual engined, better interceptors… perfect for canada…
    or the Super Hornet, which is a good choice too…

    • Generation 3 fighters. Not good enough. The F35 is a generation 4 aircraft. Why settle for hamburger when you can have steak? There should be no such thing as a fair fight in any kind of warfare..and the F35 really swings all the advantages in our favour.

  24. the f-22 has no match, superior pilots and superior machine. the russians would get shot down in droves.

  25. Never listen to the Liberals when it comes to national defence. They've always made bad decisions. Look at what they did with the EH101 back in the 90's. They cancelled the program at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars in cancellation fee's to the Canadian tax payers. (Only to come back years later and buy the same helicopter for SAR re-named the Commerant. Never listen to the Liberals.

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