Friday, July 16, 2010

Just think of all the G8 summits we could host for the same price!

This government is fiscally conservative...except when it comes to spending money:

Ottawa to spend $16-billion on fighter jets

he Harper government is confirming it will spend $16-billion for the latest generation of fighter jets from Lockheed Martin.

But the government is fending off complaints that making one of the biggest military purchases in Canadian history without a single competing bid is a waste of taxpayer money.

The Liberals and a former public servant who once headed the purchase project say the massive F-35 Joint Strike Fighter purchase should have been subjected to competitive bids.

Sadly, all my posts can't be about sample selection bias, and on the topic of military fighter jets, my expertise is limited to what I've seen in Top Gun. But, to me, 16 billion feels like a lot of money to spend outside of a competitive bid process.

And I suspect a lot of voters would feel the same way.



  • It reminds me of the EH-101 helicopter purchase back in 1987 by Mulroney.

    By Blogger Bailey, at 11:31 a.m.  

  • Except, it could be argued Bailey, that we actually needed those helicopters and it was a priority that we got them given our military plans and needs.

    That is not the case here.

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 11:46 a.m.  

  • Fighter jets? What for? The better to shoot down Soviet bombers with?

    By Blogger leonsp, at 12:07 p.m.  

  • The EH-101 SAR aircraft were needed but, they too, have had a lot of teething problems. What we didn't need were the super-expensive, Uber-Cold War variety Kim Campbell insisted on buying for a Navy that no longer had a mission for them.

    As for the F-35, there aren't many Canadians who've followed its chequered development, project delays and cost overruns. A few years back we were expecting to get the same 65-of these on schedule in 2017 for "just" $9-billion. Now that's crept up to $16-billion in read dollar equivalence and you'll just have to wait for the final bill.

    Here's a clue. With just eight of the initial flight tests concluded, one of them nearly fatal, Lockheed Martin went to the Pentagon on bended knee to be excused from having to build two of the promised test prototypes and to scrap 800 of the 5,000 scheduled test flights.

    A lot of our Euro buddies are tied to this thing too and they're getting very, very nervous.

    By Blogger The Mound of Sound, at 12:07 p.m.  

  • At least we know there'll still be an air show worth seeing in 2060.

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 1:15 p.m.  

  • And the alternative? Last I checked Boeing mothballed the X-32 when it rightly or wrongly lost out in the JSF competition to the LM's X-35. We and the Aussies were a 3rd tier member of that consortium.

    The NDP don't support a 5th gen fighter and the Cons do, so what do the Libs support?

    If they want to make the case for Boeing Super Hornets go ahead. Odd thing is that the Aussies ordered 24 Super Hornets 'cuz they could not wait for the first of their 72 F35s. Labour grandstanded against the Super Hornets but proceeded with that contract 'cuz the F-111s go out of service before our F-18s.

    If they want more transparency to evaluate whether there was an alternative they should have used the committee process and still should even if the order is signed. Beats grandstanding in the dark. That would be smart politics and a useful exercise.

    By Anonymous mike, at 1:33 p.m.  

  • Mike I think the "alternative" is to conduct a thorough assessment of the need for the F-35 versus other equipment, in development, to meet Canada's needs. Do we need a "bomb truck" really?
    Do we need something with greater strengths in other areas able to patrol and defend our vast airspace? This F-35 business has been rammed down everyone's throats from the outset. Great if you subscribe to the notion of America's greater Foreign Legion. Much less so if you foresee the need for a more independent foreign and military policy.

    By Blogger The Mound of Sound, at 1:58 p.m.  

  • From a pilot point of view I would really hate to be flying one of these in the training areas of Northern Quebec or Northern Alberta when a whole mess of engine warning lights come on.

    It has happened a fair number of times to the F-18 over the years but having that extra engine has mostly prevented any kind of disasters.

    By Blogger ottlib, at 2:02 p.m.  

  • You really think there was no thorough assessment? Thanks for clarifying the NDP position, but I think I already understood that one.

    If I was the Libs rather than grandstanding I'd be demanding committee access to every piece of the assessment on Super Hornets vs. F35. Smart politics. BTW that outset was a Lib gov't.

    By Anonymous mike, at 2:10 p.m.  

  • The Bloc supports the F35,
    their response was to make sure Quebec got their share of the
    $10 Billion in contracts coming Canada's way, as a result of the purchases.

    By Blogger wilson, at 4:08 p.m.  

  • Here's an extract from the wiki article on F35.

    "Chen Hu, editor-in-chief of World Military Affairs magazine has said that the F-35 is too costly because it attempts to provide the capabilities needed for all three American services in a common airframe.[99] Dutch news program NOVA show interviewed US defense specialist Winslow T. Wheeler and airplane designer Pierre Sprey who called the F-35 "heavy and sluggish" as well as having a "pitifully small load for all that money", and went on to criticize the value for money of the stealth measures as well as lacking fire safety measures. His final conclusion was that any air force would be better off maintaining its fleets of F-16s and F/A-18s compared to buying into the F-35 program.[100]"

    By Blogger JimTan, at 4:34 p.m.  

  • As a country, we could:
    (a) keep the current CF18 fleet in service for the next 30 years
    (b) abandon sovereignty over the arctic and abandon air defence over all of Canada
    (c) continue with a process set in place about a decade ago (under the previous Liberal Government, it has been noted) to acquire a fleet of 5th-gen aircraft

    Which would you choose?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:19 p.m.  

  • Well Anon, as a country we could start asking ourselves some direct questions about our future military needs and shape procurement accordingly. The F-35 programme is a shambles but in today's American military-industrial-warwaging complex, running behind schedule, way over cost and failing to meet performance specifications is par for the course.

    Yes we do need an F-18 replacement but it's by no means clear that should be the F-35 even before we spell out just what we intend to do with it.

    We've been screwing this up ever since Diefenbaker stuck us with the Voodoo and Bomarc after scrapping the Arrow. Second rate, sometimes second hand junk around which we had to build a mission. The only sensible a/c we've had since the Sabre was the CF-18 chosen by the Libs during Trudeau's era.

    By Blogger The Mound of Sound, at 6:09 p.m.  

  • It's also been pointed out that the acquisition costs are still $9B, with approximately $7B allocated for maintenance over 20 years (subject to negotiation).

    Not sure why Mound thinks that we're starting from scratch on defining the missions which will be required, and which are likely to be required, of our military: we will be defending our airspace, and will be participating with other NATO allies in activities around the globe.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:58 p.m.  

  • a few people have already pointed some important details out.

    the most important thing is that this was not a non-competitive bid/process. As someone stated, the Boeing attempt at winning the US contract lost... rightly so since one of the requirements was vertical landing and take off and to do these things boeing had to essentially disassemble their fighter.

    The cost over run is a big issue, the fact that it hasn't been proven to be effective is a MAJOR issue.

    But the fact remains that if the US and other nations opt for this plane and we don't, we simply can't contribute to international missions anymore. We wont be interoperable. Another option is the eurofighter, but it's essentially just as expensive, not to mention that our main defence ally is the United States.

    It's the right plane if it works, but since we don't have nearly enough evidence that it actually works, we shouldn't be making this announcement.

    By Anonymous Luke, at 9:14 p.m.  

  • "But the fact remains that if the US and other nations opt for this plane and we don't, we simply can't contribute to international missions anymore. We wont be interoperable. Another option is the eurofighter, but it's essentially just as expensive, not to mention that our main defence ally is the United States."

    Strange ally! We were stabbed in the back on the mad cow issue. Then, suckered in the fight on softwood lumber!

    Interoperable? Euroland has the Eurofighter. So, is Euro NATO not interoperable with the American Air Force?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 10:59 p.m.  

  • The EH-101 had a competitive bid process. Chretien paid billions to get out of the contract.

    Only to have the EH-101 (renamed the Cormorant) win the subsequent competitive bid process for search-and-rescue helicopters.

    When it came to replace the military helipcopters, Chretien fixed the bidding process for the helicopters so the EH-101 couldn't win. Sikorsky won with a new helipcopter that has never flown, and is now coming in massively over budget with flight safety issues.

    The Liberal Party has no credibility when it asks for competitive bidding after the mess they made of the helicopter file.

    By Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat, at 11:13 p.m.  

  • This hasn't been mentioned much in the mainstream media here, but apparently Canada's been working on the development of these fighter jets for over a decade!

    By Blogger Gletscher Eis, at 3:15 a.m.  

  • There is much that has not been mentioned in the mainstream media and with good reason. No doubt you have all heard this before, but it seems to need constant repetition. Please kindly indulge me as this will be somewhat longwinded and hopefully not to obtuse.

    What we know:

    1. "Canada to buy 65 F-35 fighter planes for $9B", from 'The Calgary Herald', Saturday, July 17, 2010, Page A3.

    "The government's decision to buy the aircraft means Canada can compete for contracts worth billions of dollars for the 'global supply chain' of some 3,000 F-35 Lightning II jets, said Ambrose."

    "Ottawa has invested $168 million into the development of the Joint Strike Fighter Program, which has already produced a return of $350 million in contracts for 85 Canadian companies, research laboratories and universities, Clement said."

    2. From: 'Stand up for Canada'-'Recovery and New Beginnings', January 29, 2010.

    "Prime Minister Stephen Harper today gave the following address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland" (the following are excerpts-anon.):

    "For while the market's awesome power to generate and widely distribute wealth is self-evident, we also know markets need governance."

    "Canada has a well-regulated, free-market economy with a private financial sector of enormous strength."

    3. What you do not hear, and will probably never hear, in the mainstream media:

    "After the war, pent-up consumer demand kept the economy afloat briefly, but by the late 1940s it was widely expected that the country was heading back to economic decline. Influential government-corporate circles took it for granted that state power must be called upon once again to rescue private enterprise. Business leaders recognized that social spending could stimulate the economy, but much preferred the military Keynesian alternative-for reasons having to do with privilege and power, not 'economic rationality'." . . . . "These arrangements impose on the public a large burden of the costs of industry (research and development, R&D) and provide a guaranteed market for excess production, a useful cushion for management decisions. Furthermore, this form of industrial policy does not have the undesirable side-effects of social spending directed to human needs. Apart from the unwelcome redistributive effects, the latter policies tend to interfere with managerial prerogatives; useful production may undercut private gain, while state-subsidized waste production (arms, Man-on-the-Moon extravaganzas, etc.) is a gift to the owner and manager, to whom any marketable spin-offs will be promptly delivered. Social spending may also arouse public interest and participation, thus enhancing the threat of democracy; the public cares about hospitals, roads, neighborhoods, and so on, but has no opinion about the choice of missiles and high-tech fighter planes. The defects of social spending do not taint the military Keynesian alternative. For such reasons, 'Business Week' explained, 'there's a tremendous difference between welfare pump-priming and military pump-priming,' the latter being far preferable."-From: "World Orders Old And New" by Noam Chomsky.(Note: for those who actually still read books, this method of analysis is not unique to Chomsky-anon.)

    4. The 'free-market' always works best when the top 5-10% of the individuals in a society are being subsidized by the bottom 90-95% and when large lenders and speculators are being bailed out by the taxpayers; as has just recently happened in the U.S. and is currently happening in Europe.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:44 p.m.  

  • By Blogger anosh, at 4:58 p.m.  

  • By Blogger anosh, at 5:07 p.m.  

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