What do we plan on doing with our fighter jets? - Macleans.ca

What do we plan on doing with our fighter jets?


In addition to questioning Peter MacKay’s aptitude this morning, Marc Garneau raised the question of what we want to do with new fighter jets.

The big discussion about what kind of plane do we need has still not been had in this country. It’s not good enough for the Defence Minister to say, We want a fifth generation airplane. That is not an operational requirement, as is stated very clearly by the Auditor General. What you must describe is: what are the missions of this airplane that will satisfy defence and foreign policy objectives of this country? To defend our territory? Obviously, a primary requirement. But if you project military power abroad, in what role are you going to project it? Are you going to be like our southern neighbour, wanting to be deep-strike, first-attack capable? Or are you going to accept air support roles of different kinds? And remembering that in our role as part of NATO we also provide soliders, we also provide ships.

It is a decision that has to be made and will heavily influence what kind of airplane you buy. The airplane we buy will spend 98% of its time in Canada, over its lifetime, defending Canadian sovereignty. That has a big effect on what kind of technical requirements you spell out. I will say to you right now that if that’s 98% I think if I was a pilot on it, I’d prefer to have two engines than one engine. If it’s going to spend two percent and five percent in foreign theatres of war than you may, depending on what you define as its primary roles, decide that you have to have certain technical requirements. That’s a big thing, a big decision in how you define the statement of requirements. That hasn’t happened.

See previously: Why the F-35?


What do we plan on doing with our fighter jets?

  1. That’s the one question we never ask, much less answer……what do we want our military to do?

    Fighter planes are useless for defending Canada….they are only usable if we are bombing small unarmed countries overseas.

    Is that what Canada is becoming?

    • Ignatieff, Axworthy, and the Liberal Party claim “the responsibility to protect” was their brilliant idea.

      I guess you are arguing that it was one dumb-a@# idea.

      • Wasn’t that Pearson?  Anyway, the responsibility to protect shouldn’t often mean strike first.  Because, as we all know, what governments say and what they do are often two different things.  Stealth works when they don’t know you are coming.  Once they are expecting you, the stealth signature can still be picked up, so its rather a nice gimmick, but it isn’t something that could be considered necessary–unless you plan on surprising people a lot.  Once the bad meanie’s in the world have begun slaughtering their own citizens, a prudent bad meanie would watch the skies to ensure no UN retaliation.  For me, a second engine is a far better place to spend our money than on a gimmick that will presumably never be used effectively.

    • Well that’s just not true. Air superiority is a vital part of national defence, from sovereignty patrols and stopping foreign incursions over our territory to intercepting suspicious/hijacked airliner. 

      •  Fighter planes have been obsolete since the advent of ICBMs.

          •  If you don’t know that ICBMs could be here before our pilots can even scramble, I can’t help you.

            Cold War is over….move on.

  2. The F-35 certainly isn’t the appropriate aircraft for defending Canada for quite a few reasons.  Anyone versed in strategic and tactical air power will attest to that. (Don’t believe it, read this: 
    http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-NOTAM-191010-1.html )  

    The lack of a second engine and operating range alone should exclude it from being considered for defending Canadian air space.The reality is that this government is making its decision in order to appease lobbyists and a very poorly thought through US defense policy.  It is trying to sell the sizzle (already antiquated stealth capabilities and avionics) and ignoring the fact that the steak is small, poor quality and already starting to turn.

    Typical of the Conservatives to make decisions based on ideology instead of facts and actual requirements.  Add it to the list: Super prisons, Mandatory Minimums, Long Arms Registry, GST cut, etc.  All decisions made based on ideology instead of facts.

    • Well, quoting a Boeing-enthusiast lobby group like Australian airpower isn’t the best route to credibilty. In fact, the F-35 meets all the performance criteria needed for air defence in Canada, and its operating range is the equivalent of any alternatives.  The single-engine versus twin-engine (why not three or five?) argument is simply irrelevant given modern engine technology.

      The issue is not what the aircraft would be needed for today or next month, but what they might be needed for in the next forty years. Anyone who says they can predict absolutely the role they will be called on to play is delusional.  The CF-18 was bought to fight cold war battles against the Warsaw Pact in western Europe and off our coasts.  It wound up conducting actions in the Persian Gulf, Kosovo and Libya. 
      We don’t know what precise missions the F-35 (or whatever) will be called on to do, but based on our experience, it will be called on to do something at regular intervals.  Since we can only afford one type of aircraft, and make it last 40 years, we necessarily have to buy one that is at the early stages of its career and is multi-purpose. That, right now, is the F-35.

      • Given the choice between believing a “Boeing-enthusiast” lobby group that backs up their claims with a whole crap-load of analysis and is further supported by independent stats on the survivability of single-engine vs twin-engine jets or believing.. uh.. you.. that backs up his stats with.. uh.. completely unsourced assertions, I know which strikes me as more believable.

        Oh,and what performance criteria are you talking about? The ones that were developed after the military had chosen the F-35s?

    •  According to a CBC Scrum..the F-35 has to be purchased due to an agreement between the USA, Australia, Japan and Canada to have a big enough force to “contain China” 10-15 years from now. See this at about the 6.02. minute mark.


      •  sorry..CTV…not CBC

  3. “What do we want our fighter jets to do?”

    Fight…’n jet around…’n stuff.

  4. Q: How many nautical miles do we need this thing to fly on a tank of fuel?
    A: It needs to have stealth capability.

    Q: Well what sort of thrust to weight ratio should our fighters to have?
    A: We need 65 planes.

    Q: Can you tell me what kind of munitions do we need them to carry in order to defend Canada?
    A:  The cost of munitions  is included in our overall cost estimate of course.


    • Beautiful! You have the CPC (non)response patter down cold.

    • well done

  5. While jets may have certain capacities some politicians may wish to put to use in certain situations, overall, the number of planes necessary for Canada’s survival as a country is likely zero.  That’s not necessarily the end of the discussion but it’s something to keep in mind.  

  6. If my memory is correct, and there’s a good chance it isn’t, one of the options for replacing the F104 was to buy F5s. Because they were much cheaper than the F18, we could have had lots more of them. Had we gone that route, or one like it, we would have been able to have Canadian planes close enough to guide the Korean airliner to Comox instead of calling on Uncle Sam. The F35 will be more, or rather less, of the same.

    • OK, Wikipedia tells me my memory is faulty, but my point was that if we didn’t have to have the best fighter plane ever, we could have more of the next best, and cover more of our land mass. Of course, we may not have enough pilots anymore, but that’s another matter.

    • We used to have a pair of F-35s stationed regularly at CFB Comox for such eventualities. If we don’t any longer I’d suspect the reason is not number of planes (I think we’ve actually kept a portion of the fleet in storage much of the time) but lack of budget for operating costs. Still, the price/volume point is fair, as the plan is to buy about half as many F-35s (65) as we did CF-18s (138). Of course, we do need fewer post Cold War as we no longer operate three squadrons in Germany.

  7. Contract KickBacks:

    Lessons on How Harper’s Reform
    Party is Run:


    A “Fat Cat Businessman” gains
    the trust of a government official.  Soon
    “Fat-Cat Businessman” gives government / politician guy wads of cash in exchange
    for unfettered access to all the good juicy untendered contracts.


    If politician man can not find
    willing and corrupt businessman, in a pinch, the politician will use one of his
    friends or mistresses to start up a company, give them the contact, and then
    those two start issuing inflated invoices, bam, split the graft, done.


    Everyone else in society is left
    scratching their heads trying to figure out why politician guy makes such weird
    and crazy policy decisions that maken nO SeNsE.



  8. repost from NP commentor:  And I hope we all understand the contract
    price and the invoice price are not the same.  The aircraft is the loss-leader.  The real money is in the “engineering
    change orders” and the “service parts”.


    And let’s not overlook the cash
    bribes in exchange for the untendered contracts.



    Repost from Adam Caldwell Toews –
    An employee of the PMO’s office, Mr. Neigel Wright has ties to Lockheed
    Martin.  Explains everything; paying 200
    million more than the US for the planes, quasi contracts, secrecy, etc. As per




  9. repost from Michael McNeil –
    There’s another form of payola.  Business
    men will fund lobbies who are friendly to Harper’s Reform Party.  For intance, just as Tory backbenchers begin
    making petitions against abortion, these individuals will financially support
    PSAs.  When oil companies need the
    government’s help, the government will fund envriomental studies by pro-oil
    environmentalists.  All that remains is a
    little reconcilliation between business groups. 
    At the end of the day, everyone gets what they want, and Tory MPs await
    their “private pensions”, aka very lucrative private sector
    consulting contracts or positions.  There
    remains no direct link or money trail for any auditor to discover.  “No evidence, no crime.”




  10. repost from Chiefking Tortilla


    Principles of Fascism… 13. Rampant
    cronyism and corruption.


    Those in business circles and
    close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves.  This corruption worked both ways; the power
    elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who
    in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism.


    Members of the power elite were
    in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by
    stealing national resources.  With the
    national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this
    corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general