It’s a lonely day to be an F-35

Tease the day: all signs point to the federal government considering other options to replace CF-18s


AP/The Yuma Sun, Craig Fry

The country’s education in how to buy a fighter jet continues. Last night, just before Christmas lights lit up Parliament Hill, Postmedia’s Michael Den Tandt lit up Twitter with a big scoop. The federal government cancelled plans to purchase F-35 fighter jets, he wrote. Den Tandt said the cabinet operations committee made the decision on Tuesday. Andrew MacDougall, the Prime Minister’s director of communications, responded—on Twitter, naturally—that cabinet “has not taken a decision on the F-35,” and that the Postmedia story was “inaccurate on a number of fronts.” The government would clarify things in due course, McDougall added, all before the House rises for the Christmas break.

The PMO has made no such complaint about The Globe and Mail‘s story this morning, which reports the saga slightly differently: Steven Chase makes no mention of any cabinet committee, but he reports the feds are looking at other options and will tap four “independent monitors” to “vet the process” of finding a replacement for the air force’s fleet of CF-18 jets. Among that quartet are retired lieutenant-general Charles Bouchard, the man who oversaw NATO’s mission in Libya; and Philippe Lagassé, a University of Ottawa prof who’s written and spoken a lot about F-35s. Lagassé, as it happens, wrote a column in yesterday’s Ottawa Citizen that listed ongoing problems with defence procurement in Canada.

Friday is, traditionally, the quietest day of the week on Parliament Hill. We’ll see if these revelations can change all that.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with the federal government’s decision to scrap plans to purchase F-35 fighter jets. The National Post, which broke the F-35 story last night, fronts Michael Den Tandt’s scoop that the cabinet operations committee turfed plans to buy the jets. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with the Toronto public school board’s intent to reform its operations. The Ottawa Citizen leads with Den Tandt’s F-35 scoop. iPolitics fronts the provincial NDP’s troubles in Nova Scotia. National Newswatch showcases a CBC News story with federal officials denying the F-35 plan is dead, but adding the government is considering other options.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Cluster munitions. Senator Remeo Dallaire says the House of Commons should amend a Senate bill that allows Canada to use cluster munitions during joint operations. 2. Northern telecom. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will investigate the effectiveness of existing telecom services in Canada’s north.
3. Reservist coverage. Treasury Board recently approved plans to increase insurance coverage for reservists who lose limbs in the line of duty. The change was recommended years ago. 4. Pickton report. The long-awaited final report from the inquiry into Robert Pickton’s killing spree will be released on Dec. 17. Postmedia writes the report will have no shortage of critics.

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It’s a lonely day to be an F-35

  1. Please, please, please tell the Canadian taxpayers what we need this aircraft for! There is no military requirement for them. We should not burden our children and grandchildren by making them pay for this colossal waste!

    Ask yourself to imagine a credible scenario that could arise and be countered by 65 F35s or, for that matter, fighter aircraft of any type. I doubt if you can come up with a realistic scenario.

    The interception of the odd Russian aircraft just outside our territorial borders has been going on since the 70s. The intercepts were done with CF101s and now with CF18s. The Russian aircraft presented no threat then and they present no threat now. An all out attack would be insane and involve ICBMs. No role for the F35.

    Further, why would we, in support of NATO, be buying an aircraft capable of attacking third world nations. That makes no sense to me. Do Canadians want to be a part of that organization? I think not!

    Further, if an airliner approaching any major airport in the world turns rogue it would be on its intended target before any meaningful action could be taken to stop it. No role for fighter aircraft. In this case we must simply be ready to pick up the pieces that such an insane action would cause.

    We cannot defend ourselves against an insane all out massive air attack. No matter, that is not going to happen. Those who covet our resources are buying them! No role here for fighter type aircraft.

    Notwithstanding the foregoing, a few token fighter aircraft for use at air shows are always impressive. What a waste!

    As I see it, the real threat to our sovereignty is an economic threat. The Russians, Chinese and the USA want and need our resources. It is not in their interest to bomb us. Rather, they are buying our country.

    For our part, the threat is that unaffordable actions by our government will bankrupt our country and compromise our ability to do what is necessary to defend against the real threat. To defend our “sovereignty” we need to counter the economic threat to our Arctic, protect our coastal fisheries, deal with internal unrest, root out terrorist cells, and, most importantly, keep our country financially viable. No role here for the F35.

    In support of our most important ally and neighbour to the south, since we are not a super power, we must ensure that they are never threatened by activities that occur or originate in this country. That will allow them to handle “the big stuff”. They always have. To say otherwise is to be kidding ourselves about our own importance.

    In other words, let the Americans do their thing with their 2400+ F35s and let us spend our dollars wisely so they don’t have to worry about their Northern Border. That would be of great assistance to them.

  2. Clearly we need to look at an alternative to F-35. Its costs have far surpassed expectations and it does not meet the tactical needs of Canadian winters. We are better off buying planes from the Russians then the F-35. Especially when there are SO many other manufacturers and possibilities that can fulfill the needs to the RCAF. There is the Euro fighter Typhoon, FA-18 Super Hornet, or even the Panavia Tornado ADV just to name a few. If the Canadian government can spur some competition in the market place, then we will see some interesting results. Strictly relying on the US for defense resources wont cut it. Competition breeds innovation and it seems like this is the solution for the aging CF-18’s.

    • How about considering the late model F-15E+ ADJP. The Strike Eagle is a superior next generation multi-role fighter that is available today. Its unparalleled long range, persistence and bigger weapons load make it the backbone of the U.S. Air Force (USAF). A complement of the latest advanced avionics systems gives the Strike Eagle the capability to perform air-to-air or air-to-surface missions at all altitudes, day or night, in any weather.

      Small fighters with
      short range such as the Typhoon, Rafale, Super Hornet and Gripen are only ideal for smaller air forces in Europe, some Asian/South
      American nations to operate them is because their range is not as important and
      they are surrounded by the small vast land areas, and more surrounding air
      bases (for any emergency situations e.g. hydraulic or engine failures). They
      can be equipped with either single or two engines (Actual range varies with

    • The F-15E+ Strike Eagle is at the top of the list, and I would suggest is the best choice for Canada. Why?

      1. Cost is lower than the F-35, with price and delivery certain
      2. It has two engines and is more reliable
      3. It has the longest combat range of the group and can cover Canadian airspace from our two bases.
      4. Can reach Europe in ferry mode without mid air refueling – We can sell our mid air fuel tankers
      5. More potent and survivable with a crew of two instead of one
      6. Has most advanced and most powerful radar of the group – Ratheon APG-82(V)1 AESA
      7. Has the lowest wing loading and can use short runways
      8. Can be fitted with Gen 5 large screen displays, and heads up displays – JHMCS II/h
      9. It is not compromised in design to take off and land from aircraft carriers (not overweight like the Super Hornet).
      10. Maintenance costs will be much lower and more certain than the F-35

  3. The era of the manned fighter is over. They are an extravagance we can no longer afford, to say nothing of the fact that they are unsuited to modern warfare and there are other weapons much less costly and more effective. Its time for our arthritic generals to wake up and smell the coffee and for politicians to start asking some hard questions on defense spending.

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