For the Tories, happiness is a warm F-35 - Macleans.ca
 

For the Tories, happiness is a warm F-35

WELLS on security and our national insecurities


 
For the tories, Happiness is a warm F-35

Trevor Hagan/CP

So much in modern life is a combination of problems that have already been solved and problems that can’t be solved at all. Take Emirates Airlines Flight 201, which was escorted by Canadian fighter jets through Canadian airspace on Oct. 29 as it flew from Dubai to New York City. The airplane was carrying cargo from Yemen. This was a day when other airplanes were found to be carrying cargo from Yemen of the potentially explosive variety. So Flight 201 found itself sprouting fighter escorts. Out of an “abundance of caution,” NORAD said later.

Dimitri Soudas, who speaks for the Prime Minister, could hardly contain his glee. Here was a chance to show that the Harper government is spending wisely when it allocates $16 billion to buy 65 F-35 fighter planes. Soudas put out a news release: “Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals and their coalition partners would cancel the deal to buy the F-35s. They would rather use kites to defend Canada than fighter jets. Canada’s air force needs the right equipment to protect Canadian airspace.”

In examining whether F-35s would have constituted “the right equipment” on Oct. 29, it may be handy to recall precisely what NORAD was worried about. Cargo on other planes had been found to contain explosive devices. So “the right equipment” would need to sort through the cargo compartments of this plane, at a distance, while airborne, to detect, isolate and remove the explosive.

In my mind, I imagine “the right equipment” as some extraordinarily nimble variation on the Canadarm that travels aboard space shuttles. And since no further shuttle missions are planned after next April, there may be a niche for a new DisarmingYem­eniCargoArm, ideally emblazoned with a jaunty maple leaf so the TV cameras would know what was what.

Unfortunately a CF-18—for that was the equipment that actually did the escorting—does not count cargo sorting among its many capabilities. Nor, and here’s where things get difficult for our man Soudas, does the F-35. So if there had been explosives on Emirates Air 201 (there weren’t) and if they had detonated, the F-35 would not have been the “right equipment” for much, except perhaps to give its pilot an uncomfortably close view as the Boeing 777 alongside fell from the heavens in a fireball.
One thing a superb new fighter jet can do is coerce compliance. A pilot who was reluctant to co-operate but who wanted to survive might, I suppose, be persuaded to fly where he was told if he spotted a fifth-generation, single-seat, single-engine stealth multi-role fighter off the starboard wing. In that situation, an F-35 might indeed be “the right equipment.” This wasn’t that situation. The Emirates Air pilot was, by all accounts, entirely co-operative and in full control of his aircraft. A radio message from the ground was all he needed. Fifty thousand pounds of hurtling ordnance was overkill.
And if the pilot wasn’t co-operative? Experience suggests such pilots are also uninterested in appeals to their survival instinct. The F-35 would have had to shoot Emirates 201 from the sky. Since the plotters’ fondest hope was to detonate the plane, we would gain little by detonating it first, beyond maybe bragging rights.

All of this is to say that Emirates Airlines Flight 201 was a combination of problems. One problem had already been solved: NORAD needed the pilot of Flight 201 to be co-operative—but he already was. Another problem couldn’t be solved at all: who was going to get that explosive out of the cargo hold, if there was any there?

For neither problem is an F-35 “the right equipment.” In fact it’s entirely useless. Or nearly: it does make some people feel better. And by “some people,” I mean “Dimitri Soudas.” Do taxpayers need to spend $16 billion to make Dimitri Soudas feel better? Perhaps. He’s a nice guy. But perhaps he can be made to feel better for cheaper.

I nominate Omar Khadr.

The 23-year-old scion of his family’s jihadist business will now, it appears, be returning to Canada to serve part of his sentence. The Harper government fought hard to keep him at Guantánamo Bay, and much of the country has applauded the government’s attempts to ignore Khadr’s Canadian citizenship and its determination to ignore the notion that a child combatant cannot be held fully responsible for his actions. Never mind all that. Khadr is coming home. Might as well be put to good use.

I propose that Omar Khadr be put in charge of security for all flights operating in Canadian airspace. This would be simple enough. Put a desk with a telephone in his cell. At intervals, inform him that there is an airliner somewhere carrying suspicious cargo. On these occasions, Khadr’s keepers would glower at him and say, “If anything happens to that flight, you’re in BIG trouble, Buster!”

The phone on the desk in the cell need not even be connected to anything. Omar Khadr couldn’t sort through airborne cargo or coerce an already willing pilot any more than a fifth-generation stealth multi-role fighter could. But he would be more than $15.9 billion cheaper. That’s enough for another GST cut. Everyone wins.


 

For the Tories, happiness is a warm F-35

  1. I cant believe how high gst is now, wouldnt be so bad if the money was going to something useful and not "jet planes that will be useless to canadians"

    • Now? It hasn't been increasing. In fact, it's fallen.

  2. I appreciate Mr. Wells's efforts in pointing out the logical inconsistencies in Soudas's remarks. But the actual content of Soudas's press releases is basically irrelevant. The point of his press releases is to repeat the phrase "Michael Ignatieff's Liberals and their coalition partners" over and over and over again.

    Soudas's talents are wasted in a democracy. His apparent slavish devotion to The Leader and the harshly partisan tone of his remarks would have been ideally suited to, say, Enver Hoxha's Albania or some other totalitarian state.

    • Are you sure about that? A guy like Soudas would be useless in a dictatorship, where the Leader had no political enemies to publicly skewer. In a totalitarian regime, the Leader could skewer his political enemies with, well, a skewer. Further, everybody would have to sound like Soudas or they'd end up shot.

      I'd say Soudas' talents are extremely valuable to Harper… his slavish devotion and harshly partisan tone helps his party very well.

      • Sure there are enemies to skewer. There are always foreigners and phantom enemies.

        Up until the end of the Soviet Union, the communists were railing against the "imperialists" and "counter-revolutionaries".

  3. And if the pilot wasn't co-operative? Experience suggests such pilots are also uninterested in appeals to their survival instinct. The F-35 would have had to shoot Emirates 201 from the sky. Since the plotters' fondest hope was to detonate the plane, we would gain little by detonating it first, beyond maybe bragging rights.

    This paragraph was worth reading the article. Very nice.

    * golf clap *

    • "…we would gain little by detonating it first, beyond maybe bragging rights."

      I always look forward to Paul's articles, but this is the most ridiculous statement of his that I've ever read. There is a huge "gain" in being able to detonate a terrorist-compromised plane while it's still flying over the middle of nowhere, rather than waiting for it to reach a populated area.

      We can argue whether the Gov't is buying a fancier jet than we need, but Paul'sline makes it sound like Canada has no need for any fighter jets.

      • 'Middle of nowhere?" – the plane was being escorted into New York City. This was so obviously a faux scare.

  4. For escort sorties even an old soviet Mig will do the trick but that's not the point behind F35's. The point of us getting an F35 is to have a solid deterrent for the next few decades to come against what the Russians and Chinese have or will have. I'm not suggesting we are headed for war but at the same time, should the Russians become more aggressive for arctic control they have to know that we've got what it takes to stand up to them!

    And hello… the Chinese are WELL on their way of becoming the next super power. You thought the Americans were bad… wait until you see what the Chinese start pulling when they have all the power!

    • if we want a plane to repel the Ruskies and Chinese, we should get the best plane for that task: the F-22A Raptor. It is far superior to the F-35 at strategic air defence and far cheaper. The F-35 is only good for short distance bombing runs and ground support operations.

      • "No opportunity for export currently exists because the export sale of the F-22 is barred by American federal law"; other countries have tried to do so and failed… The US was thinking about coming up with an export available model of the F-22; 28 October/09 , President Barack Obama signed a defense bill that terminates production of the F-22 jet fighter program.

        • True, but there is a generation 4.5 fighter available that is perfectly suitable for Canada's needs.

          The Super Hornet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_F/A-18E/F_Sup

          It's an interceptor built to replace the retired F14 Tomcat. As a carrier-based interceptor design, with twin engines, it's perfect for patrol missions. The Australians went with these craft instead of with a "pure" next generation design.

          • Wouldn't the best option for saving us from the Chinese or Russians be a state of the art navy? I worked a little bit in that field and it seems like a Destroyer class ship with the latest anti-air technology would be preferable to dog-fighting in the skies.

            I will be the first to admit, my knowledge is quite limited when it comes what beats what in real world rock-paper-scissors. Anyways, if we are at war with Russia or China, I can't see that ending well for us unless there is a secret project from the Diefenbaker that allows Canada to unleash five robot tigers that combine into a massive robot man when the shizz hits the fan.

          • I'd pay $16 billion to see some of that robot tiger action. Now you're talking.

          • Wouldn't the best option for saving us from the Chinese or Russians be a state of the art navy?.

            Actually, the best option for saving us from the Chinese or Russians is the United States of America. :-)

            I certainly agree that a state of the art navy would likely be more useful than 65 F-35's but even a state of the art Navy (of the size that Canada would be able to deploy, even if money were no object) wouldn't save us from the Russians or the Chinese if we were on our own.

            No, if we're going to go up against anybody that big alone and we hope to survive I think the Diefenbaker Thundercat is our only hope.

          • Or the nuclear deterrent. I am of the opinion that the China/Russia WW 3 argument is kind of moot since all sides have access to MAD technology. That's why I am in favour of heli gunships and better ground warfare tech.

            But I have been in the room when the issue of living up to our NATO membership was raised. That's why I think we are buying these jets. Do we need 65 of them? Who knows. One thing we "progressives" can comfort ourselves with is this purchase will create a large number of high-skill/high-pay jobs in Canada.

          • Boeing offered to have the F18 Super Hornet 100% built in Canada if they got the contract. So the jobs argument is bogus. Furthermore we should be buying the best plane for the money, period. Not based on how many jobs may be created. The Super Hornet is as good of a plane at a fraction of the cost. Plus it is dual engine. The concept of a single engine craft patrolling thousands of km. in our north is ludicrous.

          • Boeing would love to sell more of their jets and since they lost the bid back in 2001, I'm sure they are willing to sweeten the pot. Like I've said in other posts, I don't think this is the best use of money, but not because I think there is a better jet. I think stealth fighter jets have limited use in the combat reality we face as a nation.

            I was just looking at the one bright side of almost any military investment, there are usually some cookies in the deal for various regions of the country and these would tend to be higher skill, higher wage jobs, which is always a good thing.

            One thing that might keep the JSF more reasonable in price is that the US and UK purchased them so you are sharing the R&D etc with bigger economies. But I will hasten to add, I am no expert on military procurement – just a voter who tries to stay somewhat informed.

      • I don't know much about fighter jets, but this is what Wikipedia says, "the development of the cheaper and more versatile F-35 resulted in calls to end F-22 production".

    • Your analysis seems sound – all the more proof that Soudas was lying.

    • The point of us getting an F35 is to have a solid deterrent for the next few decades to come against what the Russians and Chinese have or will have.

      As has been pointed out by others, we could buy TWICE as many F-35's as the Tories propose and that STILL wouldn't be anywhere near enough for us to stop what the Russian's could throw at us RIGHT NOW if they wanted to, never mind what they'll be able to throw at us 10 years from now.

      Forget fifth generation fighters, if we're really thinking of taking on the Russians or the Chinese in the future we'd be better off spending the money on hundreds and hundreds of third generation fighters. We'd still lose, but our air force would last a few minutes longer.

      • Well, if we're saying that no military hardware (either Navy or Air Force) can keep us safe from big powers should they come forcing, how about we buy 65 Hornets or whatever cheaper twin-engine airplane without stealth that could provide 'escorts' on this type of silly-mission, and increase our diplomatic resources?

  5. Failure to plan is Planning to Fail : life is funny you coast along when times are good without a thought to the contrary expecting life to continue it's nice comfortable routine then one day BAM – the barbarians are at the gates and the result is alwyas the same the idealistic peace loving urbanites are invariably culled form the gene pool – it's an old old story – better we have armed forces with the latest and greatest than to wake up some morning – oops make that NOT wake up or at best wake up and the world is no longer as it was –

    • This fails to take into account that there is almost no scenario where 65 fighter jets of this particular type mean the difference between the existence of Canada and hostile takeover. And "planning for any concievabillity" would be the quickest possible route to economic disaster.

      As in all else, we must make choices, and do cost benefit analysis. The F-35s may meet this test, it very likely may not.

      • This fails to take into account that there is almost no scenario where 65 fighter jets of this particular type mean the difference between the existence of Canada and hostile takeover.

        There's "almost" no scenario where that's the case???

        I'm trying to come up with a scenario in which a power capable of posing an existential threat to Canada could be stopped by 65 F-35s but I just can't come up with one that isn't laughable. The closest I can come up with is a scenario where the Russians are absolutely determined to take over Canada, but they're only willing to commit 5% of their air force and none of their navy to the endeavour. In that case I can conceive of our 65 F-35s managing to take out the 100 or so MiGs the Russians would throw at us, but then again I have great confidence in our pilots. If the Russians only leave 90% of their fighters at home though, I'm afraid we're going to lose our 65 F-35s and a lot of brave pilots to a swarm of over 200 Russian fighters.

    • You're using the insurance policy argument. Know what? I'd love to have a gold-plated insurance policy, where it'll pay out if this happens or that happens, to be ready when the multitude of what-if scenarios that insurance salespeople love to scare you with transpire. However, I can't afford a gold-plated insurance policy. I have to put food on the table, take care of my kids, and pay the bills I have today. I'm in debt up to my eyeballs. Just can't afford that gold-plated insurance policy.

      Canada has other expenses, and it's in debt up to its eyeballs. Can it afford a gold-plated insurance policy? I'm not sure it can.

      • In the kind of "barbarians at the gate" scenario that psiclone paints, 65 F-35s don't even represent a gold-plated insurance policy!

        Any power capable of culling Canadian urbanites from the gene pool is going to fly past 65 Lightening IIs like they were mosquitoes. A fifth generation fighter is awesome, but it's still outmatched by three fourth generation fighters.

    • The F35 isn't the latest and greatest, the F22 is, and the Americans won't sell it to us, because it's too good for export. Never mind that it's even more expensive than the F-35, which is a damned expensive plane.

      There's a lot of options, almost all of which are less expensive than the F35, and quite a few of which our perform it. We are only buying it to make the Americans happy in my opinion.

  6. Wow. I have been an ardent, long-term reader/supporter of Paul Wells and rarely do I disagree with your remarks Paul… but geez this kind of fluff piece on F-35s doesn't even jibe with your other work.

    Sure, I agree with you that F-35's are not the tool required for situations involving bombs on commercial airliners, and yes, Soudas was definitely reaching. But the conclusion you reach by the end of this article is that because there is no clear link between F-35 and terrorism on commercial aircraft, clearly there is no need for F-35s.

    Maybe I am wrong, but I think there is a lot more to national/international security than threats to commercial airliners, and because of those threats we need several tools. I say this as a huge, loyal reader and owner of a thrice read copy of Right Side Up – you really crafted a pretty crumby straw man argument here.

    • Your criticism would be valid if the Harper Conservatives had provided ANY logical rationale for the choice of F-35s other than the nonsense provided by Soudas. They haven't and the military haven't either. The government hasn't even described the challenges our militart believes these aircraft are supposed to address or why the F-35 is the best aircraft for this purpose. They haven't even provided a report that concludes the country needs ANY aircraft. This is hardly what we should expect when the government is spending $16 billion. Paul Wells is using some satire to point this out.

  7. Nope. I just like reading good books multiple times.

    • Three times? I haven't read a book three times since The Dollhouse Caper.

  8. Paul, It is clear that you are just not getting it wrt the whole fighter jet mojo thing. My suggestion is to get a copy of Top Gun to watch over the weekend. Note the cool bike, note the cool shades, note Kelly McGillis. Cool planes flying upside down are very, very cool.

    I really don't think it is an accident that Tom Cruise gets Dimitri and vice versa. They are insinc, linked, as one. I mean a F35 may not be quite a Thetan ship but it is as close as Canada can afford right now.

    • The F-35s have not shown to be thebest planes for flying upside down over Russian MIGs.

    • "I really don't think it is an accident that Tom Cruise gets Dimitri and vice versa. They are insinc, linked, as one."

      Dimitri Soudas is a Scientologist! Who knew??

      • It does tie up a lot of loose ends.

      • And they're the same height. You may be on to something.

    • Stewart,
      The problem is that Canada can't afford it, which is why we are only ordering 65 of them.

  9. That F35 looks awfully small for $90 million or whatever. The windows are stealthy though, you have to admit. Maybe on loan from the Mexican Air Force – the tail fin logo with the guy wearing the sombrero and sunglasses was a give away – must be Speedy Gonzales.

  10. I am sick to death of being lied to by this government while they drool all over these planes.
    The news this week is development costs are up -maybe by as much as $5 billion and delayed by three years.
    England is probably taking less of them than anticipated, which ups the per unit costs again. Australia wants out.
    Dassault and Boeing claim they were entirely shut out and I highly doubt that's merely sour grapes on their part…the whole thing stinks from end to end.

  11. "Do taxpayers need to spend $16 billion to make Dimitri Soudas feel better? Perhaps. He's a nice guy."

    As far as I'm concerned Dimitri Soudas should be in jail for dodging a subpoena, which we could accomplish for considerably less than $16 billion. And it would give him something more immediate to worry about than coalitions and kites which would, in turn, mean that making him feel better would be much simpler and cheaper: let him out when his sentence is up.

  12. Irony is only one of the services he offers.

  13. We gotta make some noise on this one. This is a back room deal and there probably isn't any way out of it. Doesn't mean that we can't really start pouting about and get the USA to chuck in some, oh I don' know, surplus helicopters or something to sweeten the deal.

    We are getting the jets, folks, it is a done deal. If you don't understand that, you are hopelessly naive. But that doesn't mean that we can't improve the deal from totally stinky and I won't touch it, to plug your nose and live with it.

    Maybe they have a "Do not pay for 18 months" plan available.

    • My understanding is that we can bail on the deal, without incurring additional penalties, as long as we do it before the construction phase: http://www.thehilltimes.ca/page/view/f35-10-18-20

      So unless there is something they haven't told us about the deal proper, the government is lying when they say we don't have a choice in the matter

    • We gotta make some noise on this one.

      ***

      Sorry, you are one of the 67% of Canadians whose opinion is meaningless to Harper.

      • Would I be right in saying you don't do much in the way of negotiating in your line of work?

        • But Harper doesn't negotiate at all – it takes two to make a deal.

          • No, he doesn't negotiate like you think negotiations should be conducted. Doesn't mean he isn't negotiating.

            Any how, the point is to use the considerable ground swell of opposition to this deal, which in my opinion there will be no backing out of, to get more bang for our buck. The military needs helicopter parts, the US military has, as surplus, just the 'copters we need, soooo… are you getting it yet?

  14. I wish people stopped listening to Soudas, nothing he says is relevant to anything.

    Most media relations by the governing party are insipid: devoid of any contant or value. Usually all the government can say is a very broad statement that fits in the partisan narative of the party and not the governing of the country.

  15. Israel just purchased the F-15SE which is about 3-5 Billion dollars cheaper than these toys. We would assume they know what they are doing since they use their fighter aircraft with more alacrity than most. But when you are dealing with a Government that spends 2B on a summit meeting, what's a couple of B's here and there. why is it that we get stuck with over-priced military hardware or used British junk. so confused

    • Perhaps not the best example though, as Israel is also buying the F-35 (though only 20 initially).

      Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says "The F-35 is the fighter plane of the future that will allow Israel to maintain its aerial superiority and its technological advantage in the region… The F-35 will give the IAF better capabilities, both near and far, to help strengthen Israel's national security".

      On the F-15SE, has that purchase gone through? Last I heard (admittedly, back in the Summer) Obama was refusing to expedite the sale of the stealth variant of the F-15E to Israel.

  16. In a real world where survival depends on everything, the CF 35 ranks high. The Israelis, who should be and are paranoid, protested the sale of American jets to Saudi Arabia. To appease the Israeli's the Americans agreed to allow them to purchase the war plane of their choice-they wanted a better plane than the one sold to the Saudis. They chose the F-35. Soon after this news broke, the Syrians complained that the plane was too good, and added to an already imbalance of power.

    The plane is indeed too good-for us. if foreign policy was determined by the intestinal fortitude of the average Canadian, we would be purchasing a fleet of hot-air balloons.

    • The F35 is a good plane, it's just the wrong plane for Canada. The Saab Gripen NG is a far better choice.

  17. Have you heard about Nicaragua's unopposed invasion of Costa Rica? Nicaragua just followed google's map and voila they got themselves an extra territory by just walking through – with no armies to oppose them, other than a lone Costa Rican flag. Yes, we are nice people, if I say so myself , and other countries would be more than crazy to attack us kind people – that we are, but it's good to have a deterrent instead of crying after a spelt milk. With dwindling resources around the world, there will be countries desperate enough to do anything they could to gain control over these much valued resources.

    • If this was meant to be sarcasm or hyperbole or some such, you are made from fail, Ariadne. Costa Rica is chock-a-block with secret US bases watching the Caribbean, Central America and Venezuela. They don't need an army. This is part of the battle between Nicaragua and the US. The end will not go well for Nicaragua.

      • Too bad those chock-a-block secret US bases were not able to stop those Nicaraguan armies from invading.

    • And any country that could threaten us now will not be any more or less of a threat because of these planes.

      Canada's position is thus: Protected on 3 sides by ocean, on the fourth side by a neighbour who spends more on their military than the next 20 nations combined. Any nation capable of threatening us is capable of overwhelming us. 65 planes isn't a deterrent to them whatsoever. At best, they're a pacifier to scared little people like you who haven't actually contemplated what's outside our borders.

    • The problem is that the F35 is the wrong plane for the job, and in my opinion, leaves us less defended.

  18. If a car catches fire, the fire dept shows up. They usually bring 5 or 6 well paid fire fighters and their $300,000 shiny truck. Is this 'overkill'? The fire could probably be put out with a garden hose and someone as quintessentially useless as say, a Canadian magazine columnist or a Liberal backbencher. Fortunately, the public expects more in a first-world, civilized nation, which probably explains why the PM will remain PM for a long, long time.

  19. Soudas's statements are right-wing extremist.

    They are also displaying the position of Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party, since, after all, Soudas is speaking for Harper and the Con's, make no mistake about that. To suggest Soudas would make such statements without authorization from Harper is ludicrous.

    They are crafted for consumption by the core of right-wing extremists with epi-centre Alberta, who support Harper and the Con's pretty much no matter what, as long as Harper is seen to carry the flag. They are by no means a slip of the tongue, nor isolated, nor the first, nor the last.

    'Out There' makes a good point when he/she suggests it is done to keep the anti-coalition fires burning. But it is much more.

    Everyone in Canada should ask themselves if we want it determined by such right-wing, extremists as Harper, MacKay and the Conservative Party.

    Unless the vast majority of Canadians are willing to stand up, be counted, and in unison say "I want my Canada back" Harper will continue his crusade to convert Canada to Con'ism.

    excerpt: Lloyd MacILquham cicblog.com/comments.html

  20. If this subject had not become part of the "Liberal " party talking points and turned into a political football by the "Liberal" war room, Wells and other mouthpeices of that party wouldn't even be discussing this issue. A classic case of the media repeating the narrative contrived by "Liberal" party backroom henchmen. At least "Liberal" senator Colin Kenney has decided that playing politics with this purchase is specious at best.

  21. It is not clear to me how many of the reflexive anti-F35-ers (bad choice of words, make that reflexive anti-Harper-ers) around here actually read Paul's piece. Or, for that matter, the anti-Wells-ers.

    Paul did not say anywhere that the F-35 is a dumb choice for the military. Maybe it is a dumb choice, maybe it's the best choice. He was merely mocking Soudas for his silly anti-coalition choice of words touting the role of chaperoning a compliant civilian airliner.

    • I'm sure most are aware of Wells defense of the Separatist alliance. Down playing the "Liberals" only chance at "getting back to power" by crawling into the gutter with the Separatists is not a revelation. It comes right from the "Liberal" talking points. In Wells world, like his fellow "Liberals", Separatists are the good guys and PM Harper is the bad guy. Here's the narrative, "Liberals/Separatists= good… Conservatives/Separatists= "The dark alliance". The "Liberal"/ Separatist coalition is alive and well and their contract to seize power at any cost doesn't expire until July, 2011. It is with this knowledge that Wells and other "Liberals" continue to downplay the reality of the coalition.

    • I was going to say something about how MYL's reading comprehension is a rare commodity around here, but I see somebody else beat me to it, after a fashion.

      • Careful, Inkless, or they'll start accusing you of being a communist/anarchist/fascist shill of the giant inter-dimensional lizard people/Illuminatti/Shriners.

        Good column, BTW.

  22. We are using the F 35 to fight what or who ? The Chinese or the Russians could take us with one arm tied behind their backs. Lets get real. The Chinese and Russians have no interest in us. Historically Russia and China have had to fend off invaders rather than attack neighbours. The F35 is just money to feed the American Military Industrial complex. In fact the F35 will be barely used by the U S, they are saving the good technology for themselves. Harper stand up for Canada and say no.

  23. Macleans should be utterly ashamed to put out the 'Omar Khadr: Model Citizen?' cover for display on the week we head into Remembrance Day. Are we reduced to snickering at the feeble Paul Wells humor while sublimating the drivel from the nihilistic pacifists among us who prefer Khadr to our own troops and our own casualties of war?

    • welcome to Canaduh…where the criminals are the victims, and the enemy are just misunderstood due to lack of 'education'.

    • The F35 is not the perfect plane for Canada, but it is still the best option going to 2050 for a modern air force. To design, test, and build the perfect plane for Canada would cost many times the 16 billion we're spending now.

      • Ah, but there are other options, which are less expensive, which would do what Canada needs, and which I identified in the article. The Saab for example is designed for conditions much like ours, can land and take off from any two lane black top, and since it's an update of a place that's already in service, we know the airframe is good.
        And yes, we could build something here. If we based it on purchased technology, it could be cheaper, and even if it wasn't, the only would be spent in Canada, providing employment for our own citizens.
        Our current cost per plane, over the length of the contract is $250,000,000.00 assuming that it doesn't escalate. The 'flyaway' cost is estimated at $96 million. The Sukhoi 30 has a flyway cost of $45 million, in other words we could afford twice as many planes. The Gripen costs $61 million a piece, the same price as the upgraded Hornet, but the Gripen is more suitable to Canadian conditions.
        The Avro Arrow was a $5 million dollar plane in 1960. We could probably resurrect the project for $500 million, and produce modernized versions for about $25 million per plane.
        The F35 is a terrible value. The only good thing about it, is that if we decide to invade some country in concert with the United States, we'd be able to use their supply line.

  24. I do not know the amount of funding that has been given to the ground forces, but it would seem to me that a good portion of the F-35 budget should have gone there. I would hazard a guess that a few billion could be spent on some good, very blast proof, troop carriers. Or maybe a contract to the company that could create better IED detection. 'Cause, really. Nothing says 'sexy' more than troops coming home alive/not horribly maimed to their families. Who knows? Maybe the planes will fly in Afghanistan. We will be there as long as the Americans are there.

  25. Why does Canada need 65 F35s when NORAD could just as easily send some B1 backfire bombers to defend their, and by extension, our air space? If the F35 is such a great plane, it will not die but become a new and improved version of some USAF fighter plane, like maybe the B2. No matter how you slice it, Canada would get it from sea to sea to sea in the event of a war involving Russia, China and the US. No amount of F35s will change that reality. Remember the AVRO CF-105 Arrow? It was a forerunner of the F1 Phantom. Once again, Canada is just doing research and development for the US.

  26. one thing everyone is missing–is—one can only assume –Jack Layton has 2 be on heavy pain killers— thus– the" high"–on the campaign!!!!! Will he collapse when it's all over???