In a recent letter to the Vancouver Sun, Julian Fantino,
-a junior- Associate Minister of National Defence says he wants to clarify some facts.
Clarify is an interesting word to use, he just muddies the water some more, spewing some Harperisms.
· Canadians did not give a “strong mandate” to the conservatives to purchase tools of war. We voted and the conservatives got a majority. You did not campaign on buying weapons for the military and we did not tell you to.
· No one has yet shown that the F35 is the best, and in your words, the only aircraft that meets Canada’s needs for the future. The only way that has been shown in the past has been by holding a competition, allowing the manufacturers to show what they have to offer and selecting the best options for Canada. In the past, we determined that a twin engine jet was a necessity for a Canadian Fighter. We have had single engine jets in the past and they did not meet our needs. Look at what the experts, the people who flew the planes called the CF 104 Starfighter. The Widowmaker. The Lawn Dart.
When Canada went shopping for a replacement for the CF 104, one of the requirements was that we purchase a twin engine Fighter in part because of the 110 Starfighters lost to accidents. We ended up with the CF 18 Hornet. An aircraft that despite its age is still viable today.
· The interoperability with our allies. What does this mean? Our current CF 18 seems to be able to do this. Any 4th generation or better fighter will be able to as well.
You mention in your letter that the Liberal Government launched this process back in the 1990s which is actually true. They entered into an agreement that allowed Canadian companies the opportunity to bid on contracts for the F 35 project with an option to buy if it fit our needs. The Department of Defence was still planning on competitions to find a replacement for our aging fleet of CF 18s when we entered this agreement. It was Stephen Harper that overruled that.
I think you need to explain to your colleagues about how to play poker. Just because you ante up doesn’t mean you’ll be in at the showdown. It just gets you into the game. If the cards don’t come, you fold.
Our allies are reconsidering their purchase of the F 35 right now. The spiralling cost overruns, uncertain delivery dates, unproven technologies involved, and the software required to operate these planes appears to not be included with the purchase price, just like the engines. These countries are considering reducing the quantities ordered or looking to purchase elsewhere. Why? Because they need to know that they are buying viable aircraft that will be available when they require it.
The Canadian F35s appear to have a date of 2010+ for delivery; this is beyond the window for the CF 18 Hornets according to your people. But I guess that’s OK.
There are a number of Military and Air Force experts out there all wondering why Canada is
hell bent so intent on buying these planes. We tend not to fight offensive wars where first strike capability is required. Stealth, while a nice feature is not a requirement at the top of the list. We are far better suited, according to the experts I’ve read, to be looking at fast, manoeuvrable planes with long range capability for interception and enforcement of our airspace. And we need something that can land in our existing facilities.
Yes, a few months ago, no one knew that Canadian Airmen would be dropping bombs on Libya. A few months ago we were congratulating Libya on their efforts to become a world citizen. Or maybe that was a few years ago, it is hard to tell in politic speak.
Canada’s participation in the F 35 Joint Strike Program only ensures that Canadian companies have the ability to bid on contracts. Nothing more.
Would Julian Fantino have ordered unproven police cars a decade before they were to be produced? Would Julian Fantino dare to purchase police cars without tendering bids?
Here is my offer to you Julian, you and Steve and Peter tell us how much these planes are going to cost. What is the cost to buy, the cost for upkeep, you get the idea. Then we’ll tell you how much we are willing to pay for these jets, I’ll say 10% beyond the prices you give us for now. I can be generous too. Now here’s the deal... the conservative party of Canada will sign a note that the party and the members will pay every cent beyond the agreed upon price.
That seems fair to me.