It’s about time!

I see in a Canadian Press report published in the Globe and Mail that “Canada’s auditor general has started to dig into one of the Trudeau government’s most contentious claims, upon which rests the fate of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars: that the country is facing an urgent shortage of fighter jets … [and] … The claim was first made in November, 2016, when the Liberals announced that Canada didn’t have enough fighter jets to defend North America and simultaneously meet the country’s NATO commitments, and that a stopgap was urgently needed until the entire CF-18 fleet could be replaced.

You’ll remember, I hope, that back in 1997 Canada’s government (Jean Chrétien was our 1200px-Lockheed_Martin_F-35_Lightning_II_mock-up_04Liberal prime minister) decided to join the US (but soon multi-national) F-35 Lightening II programme with the implicit intention of buying the aircraft and the explicit goal of  sharing in the work, profits and jobs that the project might create. In 2010 the Government of Canada (Stephen Harper was the Conservative prime minister) committed to buying the aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force. There ensued an almighty public row over costs ~ partially because some generals and some DND officials tried to ‘low ball‘ the actual costs, partially because almost no one in government can agree on how to define ‘life cycle costs,‘ partially because most Canadian journalists are nearly innumerate and partially because the Liberal ‘war room‘ launched a disinformation campaign ~ and that rocked the Harper government back on its heels and made it a campaign issue. In 2015 the Liberal Party promised that Canada would not buy the F-35 but would, instead, hold “an open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 fighter aircraft.”

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Then, when in power the Liberal “government originally planned to buy 18 interim Super Hornets from Boeing for $6.4-billion before the deal was scuttled late last year in favour of buying 25 used jets from Australia for $500-million … [but] … critics, including opposition parties and former air force commanders, accuse the government of fabricating an urgent “capability gap” – as the shortfall is known – by changing the military’s requirements to avoid having to buy the F-35 stealth fighter.” The rumour ~ and that’s all it ever amounted to, as far as i know ~ floating around Ottawa was that the Liberals saw the Boeing Super Hornet fighter as a “cheap and dirty,” readily available solution and they felt confident that they could, easily back away from the promise to hold a competition, thus avoiding the dilemma of having an “open and transparent competition” while already having decided that the F-35 could not win.

Then Boeing kicked the props out from under that plan when it launched an ‘unfair trade practices’ action against Bombardier. The Trudeau Liberals were pressured into action to say that they“won’t do business with a company that’s busy trying to sue us and Operation Enduring Freedomtrying to put our aerospace workers out of business.”” But the Liberals had fabricated a “capability gap” to create an opening to buy some Super Hornets from Boeing and then, the rumours said, to say to Canadians: “look the Super Hornet is a ‘good enough’ aircraft for Canada; we already have 18, we will not bother with a costly, time consuming competition, we’ll just by 70 more of these good enough fighters from Boeing. Then Airbus came to the rescue of Bombardier and now Boeing is going after Bombardier‘s arch-rival Embraer, which further complicates the issue and has thrown Canada’s CF-18 replacement strategy (if that’s the right word … if there ever was one) into disarray.

Meanwhile Canada has decided to buy some very used ~ as old as our fleet ~ F-18s from Australia because of that capability gap thing.

Now, to make matters worse, for the Trudeau Liberals, “Auditor general Michael Ferguson is now scrutinizing this “capability gap” as part of an overall fighter-jet review, according to an internal memo written by officials at the federal procurement department and obtained by The Canadian Press through access to information legislation.

In my opinion ~ emphasis on my and opinion ~ there never was a capability gap. It was a lie, conjured up in the Trudeau PMO, to try to arrange a (dishonest) sweetheart deal with Boeing which would allow the Liberals to square a problematic circle of their own making.

One hopes that the Conservatives and the media and, above all, the Auditor General’s staff, will expose the lie to Canadians.

 

6 thoughts on “It’s about time!”

  1. Perhaps the Auditor-General can determine the Life-Cycle cost of operating the existing fleet of CF-18s from the 1980s to the present day in present dollars.

    That should be a practical exercise based on real, historical numbers rather than fantasy, future numbers.

    It would also be a useful benchmark for analysing the potential future costs of maintaining a combat air capability – regardless of platform.

    A similar exercise should be possible with the Tribal destroyers and the Halifax frigates for evaluating the CSCs.

    1. Yes, but you end up having nothing but a useful historical record … the RAM-D calculations for new, this generation systems mean that the historical record is not rally applicable. I suspect that the next fighter and the next destroyer/frigate and the next transports and the next tank will each need a new set of life cycle cost metrics

  2. It depends on your assessment of how much capability a country like Canada needs. While it is true that we have been getting away with having around 6 spare jets for foreign adventures for the last decade or so it does seem like a sad commentary on our status as a “middle power” that “punches above its weight”. Honestly we could do better and, for whatever reasons they have, it is hard to fault the government for wanting to increase our military capabilities.

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