Tuesday, 26 April 2011

More on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

The latest from CBC News.

I do believe I predicted that, but I don't think there's any call for plaudits. Anyone familiar with military spending could have done the same. I still remember the disaster that was Canada's Used Submarine Purchase. I believe the appropriate phrase to describe our purchase process for the F-35 Lightning II would be "Spinning Bow Tie Extravaganza."

So not only are we purchasing jets without weapons, avionics or engines... which leaves, well, the airframe and a novelty size price tag I suppose. I make this the second time since the election cycle began (and do keep in mind that's less than a month) that the Ministry has admitted that the price for these fighters is going up.
At this rate, by the time we are purchasing them in 2016 we may well have to hock Alberta to afford them. Which given how I'm feeling about Alberta these days might not be so bad.

Regardless, I think it's entirely clear that whichever party or coalition of parties forms a government, the plan to purchase the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II should be subjected to an open and very public review. An open and public review followed by an open tender for competing bids to see if, just possibly, Canada can find a cheaper, more efficient choice to replace our CF-18 Hornets.

Here are some other useful sources I dug up after reading that CBC article:
Embassy Magazine
CTV Edmonton
Defense Industry Daily

I think my favourite is the mention by Mr. Wheeler in the Embassy article of mass and wing loading. The comparison of the F-35's probably flight characteristics to the F-105 Thunderchief had me torn between laughing and weeping. For those who don't recall or weren't around, the F-105 (often called the 'Thud') was a supersonic fighter/bomber from the Vietnam era. It earned the nickname "Lead Sled" because it simply did not have the agility to maneuver against  North Vietnamese MiGs. By the end of the war, it had been reduced to ground attack and SAM-suppression operations.

So Canada is planning to purchase a stealth fighter that comes with no engines and that may not be able to dogfight once we scrape up enough money to buy the engines (ooh, and the CD player, extended warranty and undercoat). That is, sadly, exactly what I've come to expect from the Harper Government (tm).

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