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?