Does Canada need the F-35?
Nine billion dollars for sixty-five planes? I think the entire Navy cost that much. I'm familiar with the high price of cutting-edge defence contracts, but I was stunned when I heard we were only getting sixty-five F-35 fighters for that price tag. That's half the number of F-18's we currently have. Is there another option?
Of course there is. There always is. The French make some nifty fighters, as do the Swedes. And if we're looking for mass compatibility with our allies the Eurofighter is always out there. But what are we trying to accomplish for Canada's Air Force? National sovereignty is the first priority. And while many of us may think that our vast country is indefensible, those swift fighters flying out of Cold Lake and Bagotville can make it to any of our borders in a matter of minutes if need be. They're our first line of defence, and we need the very best equipment we can. Nobody can argue that the F-35 is absolutely top of the line.
Next, there's the nasty business of supporting our troops overseas. Our F-18's fought in the Gulf War and over former Yugoslavia, with spectular - if little known - success. This is an extremely dangerous occupation, and we would be remiss if we sent our pilots into battle with anything less than the best. Also, since the F-35 is American-made, it's already designed to integrate seamlessly into an American air defence network, which is the most likely scenario for future Canadian air operations.
But still, only sixty-five for nine billion dollars? Youch. The good thing is, we've been operating our fighter command with a similar number of aircraft for years after half the F-18 fleet was mothballed in order to extend the overall lifetime of the force. Sixty-five F-35's, specifically designed to be low-maintenance and with higher readiness capabilities, may actually increase our ability to patrol our skies.
So it's a big, big price tag, but there's no question the F-35 is the best fighter available, and our pilots deserve nothing less.comments powered by Disqus