Thursday, December 13, 2012

Reset on F-35s

This has been coming for a long time -- Canada needs a strong and capable air wing -- the real question is whether the F-35s are the right plane for that capacity.  What are the likely missions?  Patroling the North?  In which case stealth fighters are not really right? Anti-insurgency fighting?  Again, stealth fighters are not it?  Or trying to penetrate the air defences of a modern sophisticated adversary?  In which case stealth fighters are perfect.


OTTAWA—The federal Conservative government has formally pushed “reset” on its search for a new fighter jet after revealing that the Lockheed Martin F-35s they had picked would cost more than $600 million apiece to own and operate over their lifespan.

Battered by opposition criticism, sticker shock and with the sharp critique of the auditor general ringing in their ears, Conservative cabinet ministers confirmed Wednesday that they were starting fresh in their search for a jet to replace aging CF-18 Hornets.

“We have hit the reset button and are taking the time to do a complete assessment of all available aircraft,” Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose told reporters.

The F-35 Lightning II — the choice more than two years ago — is in the running but its purchase is far from certain, especially given the rising costs for the stealth fighter.

While the government has vowed to spend no more than $9 billion to buy the jets, a cost analysis reveals that Ottawa has set aside just $602 million in reserve funds to cover unexpected price hikes. That’s far short of the recommended contingency fund of $2.5 billion, the analysis by the accounting firm KPMG says.

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