F-35: flying soon in Canada’s friendly skies.

It is getting frustrating. Despite the Pentagon’s continued concerns about the fate of the F-35 fighter aircraft, Canada’s Conservative government says everything is on track. On track for what? They do not say.

At the same time, the Pentagon sources tell us that the only thing that is on track in this program is that costs estimates look like they will probably double. That does not seem to worry our laconic Defence Minister. And it appears to be no surprise for the fat cop that Mr. Harper has fronting for the F-35 program. Mind you, just how credible Julian Fantino is when it comes to fighter aircraft, remains to be seen.

And who should know more? The Americans want up to 3000 of these aircraft in different configurations. The Harper government has ordered 65 in the stealth attack model. You would expect that the people who have ordered so many billions more of the aircraft would keep the closest eye on how things are going.

And just who the Conservatives want to attack with these aircraft remains a deeply clouded mystery. With 3000 or so of these aircraft in the United States compared to our 65, we would be damn silly to attack the Americans. There are very few countries in the world that would welcome us to bomb and strafe their military as did Libya.

It just shows you how little we know about military aircraft. Back in the days of the CF-100 and the AVRO Arrow, we understood that Canada needed long-range patrol aircraft to maintain the integrity of our Arctic and our coasts. What has changed? The Conservatives have ordered very short range aircraft that use stealth technology to sneak up on the enemy. What enemy?

If we sent one of these F-35s out to patrol the Arctic, it would have to take a refuelling aircraft with it. Refuelling aircraft are not very stealthy. For some reason, that does not make sense. And why would you want to be stealthy about patrolling. The very fact of patrolling is supposed to keep out the bad guys—whomever they might be.

But is it supposed to make sense? Maybe the Conservatives think they have to support whatever aircraft program the Americans develop. Mr. Harper thinks that will endear us to the Americans. Surely, Mr. Harper can find a cheaper way to do that.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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