How to spend $21-billion

David Pugliese’s three-part series on the proposed purchase of 65 F-35s—see here, here and here—is an altogether epic tale of confusion, misdirection and the unexplained.

In the 1980s, when Canada’s Air Force was looking for a new fighter jet — eventually picking the CF-18 — it gathered the competing aircraft at Cold Lake, Alberta, for rigorous flight tests. One military participant recalls tens of thousands of pages of aerospace evaluation data and flight test details. Among those taking part was then military pilot Laurie Hawn, now the Conservative point man on the JSF file.

But Canada decided on the JSF without testing it against competing planes. Boeing and French aircraft manufacturer Dassault would later confirm DND never asked nor received high-level performance data from them. The developmental nature of the JSF, in itself, violated DND’s criteria for a replacement aircraft. In 2006, department officials stated that any CF-18 replacement would have to be an aircraft in operation with an allied force, according to records obtained by the Citizen.

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