Has the F-35 been a boondoggle?

Peter MacKay objects to the use of the b-word


On his way out of National Defence, Peter MacKay objects to the suggestion that the F-35 constitutes a “boondoggle.”

Contrary to what Mr. Pugliese has reported, there was also no F-35 ‘boondoggle’ because no money has been misspent and no money has been spent at all on acquisition. DND has followed Treasury Board guidelines and a KMPG audit showed that our numbers were correct and no money was unaccounted for. 

Mr. MacKay is basically right, insofar as the F-35 is so far neither “a braided cord worn by Boy Scouts as a neckerchief slide, hatband, or ornament” nor “a wasteful or impractical project or activity often involving graft.”

Representatives of the Harper government did say that it had decided to purchase the F-35 and that a contract had been signed and that to not go through with the purchase of the F-35 would be perilous and it did then declare that no decision had been made and no contract signed and that it would consider its options. And the Auditor General did conclude that “full life-cycle costs were not presented and were likely underestimated.” And the Auditor General did note that “Treasury Board policies require consideration of all relevant costs over the useful life of equipment, not just the initial acquisition or basic contract cost.” And the comparability of the KPMG audit is debatable.

But to say that all of that amounts to a boondoggle would be unfair. A farce, sure. But a boondoggle? No. Let us be fair and precise here. Indeed, we must be very careful about the words we apply to matters such as these, lest we unfairly malign a fiasco by confusing with it another specific and unique kind of mess.


Has the F-35 been a boondoggle?

  1. Peter is right! This drives the Harper haters to new extremes of idiocy – there is no money being spent as of yet so how can it be a boondoggle – it has the potential of becoming one – however – just like the so callled missing 3 billion which isn’t missing in point of fact we spent 3 billion less and then again the military budget and again we have more money than originally thought! so the bottom line folks is the lame street media has decided that any issue is a scandal and then throws around unsubstantiated claims from leakers and insiders that you never get to actually cross examine because they seem to disappear – and all you have left is he said this she said that critics say this sources say that and no real story anywhere for the most part!

    • I always feel so much better when you’re here, sunnily (and with many exclamation marks) explaining that everything’s alright, yes, everything’s alright.

      It’s like you’re the wizard of oz behind a curtain, manipulating levers and buttons while loudly proclaiming we should pay no attention to the PMO’s corruption.

      But you almost always sound happy while you’re denying the truth that keeps finding its way into our newspapers.

      • Heh….Wayne Pollyanna Young formerly of the Chamber of Commerce

  2. Mmm well I wouldn’t want to scandalize Nick Taylor-Vaisey again, so I’ll say it’s a unique kind of mess alright… starting with a ‘cluster’ and ending with a ‘k’.

    Btw Mr Wherry….I don’t know where you learned fencing….but you’re excellent at eviscerating politicians!

    • Did you scandalize NT-V? By cussin’?

      Good times! (maybe he’s been sheltered).

      • Apparently I did!

        He’s also convinced that no news will happen over the ‘summer holidays’, so yeah he’s been sheltered. LOL

  3. JSF partner nations (Canada being one of them) is a pay-for-access situation. For example, Canada is a level 3 partner with about $160M commitment. This does not commit Canada to buy F-35s but is needed for industry participation as all of this (being a JSF partner nation) is outside the realm of a typical U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deal, where FMS customers do hard negotiation for industry offsets, or if the don’t like it, they don’t buy. So yes, Canadian taxpayer money has been used on this project already: F-35s bought or no. An FMS deal for example would be Israel, where they get guaranteed offsets (building wing components and such). They also get about $3B per year in U.S. taxpayer funded military assist. Japan is another FMS deal where Japan gets plenty of industry offsets…guaranteed. JSF Partnership nations (Canada, Netherlands, Denmark, Australia, Italy, Norway, Turkey etc) get no guaranteed offsets (the poor slobs) and get “opportunities” to compete for “best value” workshare. Those existing contracts could someday go to another vendor (in another country) if they provide better “best value”. In any event, the aircraft has serious development problems and will unlikely meet few if any of its original specification goals, along with not being affordable, lethal or much else but, a boondoggle.

    • Thank you!

    • Tax dollars well spent as shown by the recent structures contract awarding to Magellen Aerospace. A contract worth 250 million dollars and an additional 20 to 30 more full time jobs in the aerospace industry. Not to mention any other economic offsets that may ensue in support industries. For the record, this is Magellens third F35 production related contract. Cheers.

  4. indeed, it would be like calling a contract a memorandum!

  5. Canadian news providers rightly labelled the Harper govt.’s inept handling of
    the F-35 file not only a “boondoggle”, but also
    a “debacle”, “fiasco”, and “circus.”

    For 21 tiresome months, the Cons. repeatedly failed to pay attention to many ‘inconvenient’ facts about the troubled F-35 program. For example, they failed to review two key U.S. Govt. Accountability Office reports (online, no less!) in March 2010, GAO-10-478T & GAO-10-520T, which were filled with cost & other warnings about the Joint Strike Fighter program.

    The Cons. also failed to wake up to the fact that by early 2010, the JSF program was in so much trouble that U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates fired the general in charge.

    While MacKay, Harper, Hawn & other Cons. repeatedly told people in this country that each ‘Canadian-ized’ F-35 would cost us no more than $75M, GAO reports showed the per-aircraft expense going higher & higher – to an average procurement cost of US$137M!

    In the spring of 2011, the campaigning Harper told voters that the Cons. were “very confident” about their F-35 estimates. But in the same month (April), the Pentagon’s JSF program chief, Vice-Adm. David Venlet, told reporters: “The [armed] services see these [F-35]
    estimates and it makes their knees weak going forward, as it does anybody’s.” He
    also revealed: “We see that [F-35 operating and sustainment cost] estimate. We
    know that’s not the right number. We don’t know what the right number is.”

    MacKay, Harper & other high-ranking Cons. tried again & again to mislead Canadians on the projected F-35 fleet bill. They knew it would exceed $25B over two decades, as the auditor general revealed in his damning report early last year, yet they kept lying to taxpayers, saying it would be only $16B.

    In the private sector, such ineptitude (failing to do proper due diligence) & then misleading investors (Cdn. taxpayers, in the case of the F-35) would result in senior managers being fired. But we’re still paying the salaries & benefits of Harper & other senior Cons. who only hit the fighter jet procurement “reset button” after being hounded in Parliament by the Libs. & NDP for several months.

    Incompetence & lies are why the Harper Cons. don’t deserve any political support. No wonder MP Brent Rathgeber resigned from the Harper-led Con. caucus in disgust last month & blogged “I fear that we have morphed into what we once mocked.”

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