Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Canada's 2011 Federal Election: More thoughts on CF-35 air fighter jets

Canada's CF-18s were purchased back in 1982 when the Cold War was a major preoccupation of the two superpowers. With the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the USSR to counter the mujahideen rebels supported by the US, Prez Ronald Reagan raised the stakes by initiating "Star Wars", thereby ending Détente and the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). With heightened international tensions, Canada was playing a key role in the air defense of continental America against Soviet incursions and possibly ICBMs and air invasions from the north.

Fast forward to 2011. The CF-18s are approaching the end of their extended shelf-lives. But just like human resources management, we should not staff a position just because it has become vacant. The same applies when it comes to replacing the CF-18s. We need to (re)assess emerging needs and (re)define new functions in the context of our current geopolitical realities and future military theatres. For examples: What are our current and foreseeable security threats? Is aerospace hardware the best measure to mitigate these risks? If yes, what are the specs/price/options and how many? What are Canada's military obligations under NORAD, NATO, UN, etc, etc. I have no doubt we need to replace the aging CF-18s. But as voter, I am not clear as to the link btwn the proposed CF-35s (which will last 25-30 yrs) and our foreign affairs agenda (which usually last 3-5 yrs).

UPDATE: "Pentagon kills project to develop alternative engine for F-35 fighter" by The Associated Press – Mon, 25 Apr, 2011 6:06 PM EDT

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has notified the maker of an alternative engine for the next-generation F-35 fighter aircraft that its contract has been terminated.

Work on the engine was stopped a month ago, saving $1 million a day on a project that Defence Secretary Robert Gates has called wasteful.

When Congress passed a long-delayed 2011 defence budget this month, it contained no money for the engine, and the Pentagon then made the decision to kill it. In congressional testimony Gates said the second engine would require another $3 billion to develop.

Congress and the General Electric/Rolls Royce group that was developing the engine were notified of the decision Monday.


Related Links / References:

* Wikipedia / The Cold War Peiod 1979–1985
This period of the Cold War from 1979 to 1985 was a part of the the Cold War when relations between the superpowers became cooler, arising from the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. A corresponding change in Western policy from détente to more confrontational posture against the Soviets emerged, as US President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made clear their philosophical undertaking to counter Soviet expansionism in the developing world. There was a return to the costly arms race, with the issue of the stationing intermediate range nuclear missiles in Europe remaining unclear, and US proposals for the Strategic Defence Initiative introduced a new paradigm that threatened the equation of Mutually Assured Destruction. This phase of the Cold War ended shortly after Mikhail Gorbachev assumed leadership of the Soviet Union and demonstrated a clear commitment to reduce East-West tensions.

* Wikipedia / The Cold War period of 1985-1991
This period began with the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev as leader of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev was a revolutionary leader for the USSR, as he was the first to promote liberalization of the political landscape (Glasnost) and capitalist elements into the economy (Perestroika); prior to this, the USSR had been strictly prohibiting liberal reform and maintained an inefficient centralized economy. The USSR, facing massive economic difficulties, was also greatly interested in reducing the costly arms race with the US. U.S. President Ronald Reagan's policies of aggressive confrontation and arms buildups through much of his term prevented the USSR from cutting back its military spending as much as it might have liked. Regardless, the USSR began to crumble as liberal reforms proved difficult to handle and capitalist changes to the centralized economy were badly transitioned and caused major problems. After a series of revolutions in Soviet Bloc states, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Photo Credit:

* Wikipedia / ICBM Intercontinental ballistic missile


Kempton said...

Fit for use is one major issue. The other one is its estimated costs keep rising and it is much more than what Harper willing to admit.

Latest news from CBC,

Haricot 微豆 said...


Thanks for the link to CBC News.

You are right, once the govt has decided there is a need, then the purchase cost becomes an issue.

Based on what I have heard, I can just see this coming from the politician responsible:

".... I relied on my departmental experts to provide me with an estimate and those are the information I received .... "

So, who is accountable if the estimate is way too low?

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