Friday, March 16, 2012

Rethinking the F-35

Uncle Obama isn't the only one with a state of the art fighter jet under development.  Take a look at the new photos of the secret Chinese J-20.

I doubt we'll ever meet China in combat again.  How long before they start selling these to Iran or Syria?  F-18's are fine against the Taliban, but we might find ourselves on the short end of the technological advantage some day soon.

Would China sell us some of these?  It's a fair question.  The real benefit to asking it is to make our traditional suppliers think twice about playing monopoly-like price games with our defense needs.   Perhaps we could just buy the J-20 fuselage and custom fit our own electronics and engines into it?

I'm glad there is new debate around the F-35 purchase.  It was a purchase made by a previous Liberal government without and open bid.  In reality there was a competition but it was for a NATO Joint strike fighter.  It looked great on paper.  We are supposed to get an advanced fighter at a great price thanks to economies of scale.  A real work horse.

I wasn't opposed to the fighter purchase when it was declared and I haven't been opposed to it before.  It looks like the terms have changed however.  I'm still not opposed in fact, but that doesn't mean I can't change my mind.  The Government has the right to change its mind.  It should reconsider when the manufacturer changes the particulars of what was originally agreed to.

This is beyond politics.  This is the national interest.  Some will try to make political hay out of it.  Let them.  "Now you say this but before you said that!"  As if what the government has to say is the only variable.  Only a fool would deliberately make a mistake to avoid unfair criticism from a hostile opposition.

Give it some serious thought by all means.  What conditions need to be met before cancelling?  What are the alternatives and how much will they cost?  Are there any new alternatives?


Anonymous said...

Go with the Super Hornet with all the electronics that takes it to a generation 4.5+ fighter. The cost is about half of what is being quoted for the F35 (by anyone except Cdn DND). RCAF is familar with the Hornet, it is a two engine aircraft rather the F35's single, it is a proven Arctic flyer. There is no need to cancel the F35 because there is no contract, the only thing Canada walks away from is the development costs already inputed

Don said...

We need two types of fighters in Canada.

One for our overseas requirements.
One for our domestic security requirements.

For Domestic security, we need to be able to answer intrusions in our sovereign territory (specifically airspace) as well as be able to work effectively with the Americans for continental level of security. This would require a figther on the level of the CF-35.

For our overseas requirements, most the places we operate are not even on the level of a CF-18. An upgraded CF-18 level fuselage and electronics may prove to be more useful in those arenas than high tech CF-35 style fighters. And, of course, should the CF-35 be required, they can be retasked.

I'm certainly no military expert, but I think this idea would give us a flexible force to answer both our domestic and foreign security needs.

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