The F-35 math gets fuzzier

by Aaron Wherry

The projected training budget may not be sufficient for the F-35.

About $1.3 billion was set aside for training, simulators and other infrastructure under the Harper government’s proposed $9-billion capital purchase of the radar-evading jets. But documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show air force planners have been concerned about the dollar projection.

That’s because it was calculated for the standard Defence Department estimate of 20 years’ of flying, rather than the lifetime of the aircraft, which is estimated at 36 years … The documents suggest taxpayers might have to shell out more training dollars after the 20-year window ends, and they indicate the investment plan comes up “approximately $2 billion short” of the requirement.

The auditor general projected that over the 36-year lifecycle, an additional 14 F-35s would be required to deal with normal attrition.

National Defence did inform the government of the need to consider the requirement for attrition aircraft at a later date. The cost of replacement aircraft is not included in the life-cycle estimate for this project and will be treated as a separate project in the future.

But in a comment to the Hill Times, Julian Fantino’s office sticks to the $9 billion budget for acquisition.

“There is no plan to purchase additional aircraft after an initial order,” said Chris McCluskey, Mr. Fantino’s communications director. “The government will not spend more than $9-billion on aircraft to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s.”

For the record, here was the government line on Monday, as delivered to the House by John Baird.

With respect to the F-35, let me be very clear. Canada has not signed a contract and we have not spent any money acquiring the F-35. We will not proceed with the purchase until the seven steps that we outlined are completed and developmental work is sufficiently advanced. The government has clearly communicated the budget that we have to replace Canada’s ageing CF-18s and we will stay within that budget.




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The F-35 math gets fuzzier

  1. And so when they can’t buy them for those $$$ the forces are left twisting in the breeze — ???

  2. John Baird “Canada has not signed a contract and we have not spent any money acquiring the F-35.”

    Gov January 11, 2011 “To date, Canada has invested approximately $168 million in the JSF program”

    Source: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/ic1.nsf/eng/06177.html

  3. I note that both gov’t communications on this quoted above describe Canada’s fighter jet as the “aging CF-18″. An irritating, but perhaps effective rhetorical trick.

    • Sure, what they are describing is simply that the majority of the CF-18s’ effective life-expectancy are expected to require replacement by 2017. Either that, or there would be a requirement for an additional next-gen systems upgrade, in addition to a likely comprehensive air frame life extension programme in order to keep the CF-18 competitive and credible with rest of world aircraft. Some of the hornets have received a centre-barrel replacement which is a good start, but an extended mid-to-late 2020s operational status would require a more comprehensive life extension programme in addition to an incremental systems’s upgrade throughout the remainder of the service.

      With the likeliness of the F-35 not being procured as a sustainable or affordable acquisition programme in the numbers currently required by RCAF, there would seem to be the inevitable reality of some form of alternative plan to be implemented in the near-term… ie, either a robust and definitely not cheap CF-18 SLEP and next-gen upgrade as an interim solution, or a plan B acquisition or stopgap plan. Pretty straight forward.

      • The commenter was not disputing the ageing of the CF-18s, he was noting that our Harper Government has obviously decided that every reference to CF-18s must be phrased as “ageing CF-18s.”

        Harper’s little communications trolls have their fingerprints on both these press releases.

        Pretty straightforward.

        • And ageing they are. I guess I’m confused with the foofaraw then? If it’s the case, then isn’t it a perfectly legit and justified constant ‘nudge’ by the current leadership to government to prepare funding for something, on schedule, to replace (or retrofit) the soon to retire CF-18? Regardless of the partisan politics involved?

          • Again, this was a comment on the pervasiveness of the PMO’s communications influence, not the airworthiness of the CF-18.

  4. Just a dumb Yank down here watching your politics, up north. now admittedly we do have some sticky things to work through with the F 35, and I am not all that pleased with Lockheed, A couple decades ago when I was working at NORAD, I had to jerk a knot out of their tail. It can be done, and pretty soon it will be. Here’s my question for you guys up north.

    You don’t have to buy any planes. It’s not like your piddly little 20 here or 20 there are going to win or lose a war. Go buy some pretty kites and ribbons for your hair, and be happy. Now if you want to grow up and put your big boy pants on, … I have known your airmen and troops from before. I would welcome them by my side in the fight, where ever it may be …

    but pick another reason to trick voters into voting against the guys in charge. You don’t need to buy anything.. go play with the little girls in the meadow. You libs are far too full of yourself. At least the current guys, are men enough to try and pull their weight in the world. You haven’t committed to anything, Canada does not have to have an Air Force. We Yanks ‘ll watch over you, little brother. … and we will be flying F 35′s for what its worth, That’s the ticket price for playing in the big leagues. You can go get one of those pretty pink Volks Wagon bugs with flower prints. They are so cute!

    This isn’t hard. You can just buy those cheap Czech trainer planes and tell the Russian recon plane. “Please mister, don’t fly over our lands.” or you can play with the big boys. In the end the only difference is your own self respect. We Yanks don’t mind you being, our “little brother.” It’s kinda cute.

    Verinus

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