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Appropriateness of F35 for Canada questioned as costs projected to be $40B

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Cost of buying, servicing F-35 fighter jets soars to $40B

The cost of buying and servicing the F-35 stealth fighter jets that Ottawa has been planning to purchase has skyrocketed to about $40 billion, CTV News has learned, as the Conservative government considers alternative aircraft.

A report commissioned by the government, which will be released next week, will kick off a review of the entire jet fighter procurement process and the need to replace Canada’s aging fleet of CF-18 jets.

The report examined the cost of buying, maintaining and operating 65 F-35 jets over a period of 36 years. The soaring price tag has prompted officials to consider purchasing less expensive war aircraft. Options to be examined by an independent panel include the U.S.-made Super Hornet and Swedish-made Gripen, sources say.

The Conservatives’ plan to purchase the F-35 jets has been mired in controversy since a scathing auditor general's report accused both National Defence and Public Works of hiding the true cost of the project.

Ottawa said the program would cost between $14.7 billion and $16 billion, but auditor general Michael Ferguson and Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page disputed those figures.

Ferguson accused the Defence Department of low-balling the estimate by not including operating expenses, and said it would actually cost more than $25 billion, but government officials denied trying to hide anything.

Page had estimated it would cost $29.3 billion to purchase and maintain the jets.

Now, it looks like the cost would exceed both of those estimates.

Alan Williams, a former senior procurement officer with the federal government, said the price of the “complex” jet program has been going up since Ottawa initiated the procurement process.

“We ought to wait until the development is done and the platform is operational,” he told CTV’s Power Play Thursday.

“But we dipped our toes into the water much too early in the program, without knowing the cost or the capability. And that’s why we’re saddled with this situation today.”

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel said the government is committed to being transparent on the issue and following the recommendations of the auditor general’s report in April. She said the report on F-35 costs will be made public soon.

“We want to make sure that we get this right and we’re taking it really seriously,” she told Power Play.

However, NDP defence critic Jack Harris said the “sticker shock is going to make people say this is not something that’s affordable.”

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Nevertheless, the CF-18's are falling apart. However we upgrade will be ultra-expensive.

Lying about the cost is the real problem though. (Um, we're going to find out.)

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Another example of overkill and overspending likely initiated by a misguided need to support the US in all things and make lobbyists happy. The Super Hornet is mentioned as a suitable replacement to our own CF-18s and the US has already started to put them in place to take over for their aging F-14s. I even question the need for any significant number of advanced fighters when then money would be better spent for improved search and rescue vehicles or the Coast Guard and of course even outside of the military.

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Another example of overkill and overspending likely initiated by a misguided need to support the US in all things and make lobbyists happy. The Super Hornet is mentioned as a suitable replacement to our own CF-18s and the US has already started to put them in place to take over for their aging F-14s. I even question the need for any significant number of advanced fighters when then money would be better spent for improved search and rescue vehicles or the Coast Guard and of course even outside of the military.

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How about train Canada geese to fly to targets and strap explosives on them. How much would that cost? :P

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IF Canada was going to war...it'll be over the Northwest passage in the Artic region. Don't know if the F-35 are good enough for that though.

I'd be perfectly happy with the Super Hornets to replace the aging CF-18s. But they really need to start replacing the Sea Kings asap.

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*All* of the options are expensive when you consider total lifetime costs.

Consider that the CF-18 program has run us about $20 billion so far, with 7 years left to go, and that's for a fighter fleet that we partially mothballed, cut back on flight hours and didn't upgrade for a long time...

Some of the alternative contending aircraft might come out cheaper on paper, but being less advanced they may well need to replaced with another new design a lot sooner.

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Don't know if the F-35 are good enough for that though.

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We shall see if it makes it through the US budget talks let alone our own.

It would be nice if Canada could somehow find a nice middle ground between buying outdated falling apart subs and way overpriced not even fully developed concept planes.

I am pretty confident that someone, somewhere is already building brand new high tech subs/planes/you name it and that we could get a much better value product than our crappy track record.

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The CF-18 wasn't full developed when we bought them in 1982, a year before the U.S. put that design into service.

The problem right now is that we're limited to the choice of either buying designs like the "Eurocanards" or Stop-Gap Hornet and having them become outdated in maybe 10 years of service, or buying the F-35 with all its cost and other issues.

There won't be another new Western fighter design available until the mid 2020s at the earliest.

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Another example of overkill and overspending likely initiated by a misguided need to support the US in all things and make lobbyists happy. The Super Hornet is mentioned as a suitable replacement to our own CF-18s and the US has already started to put them in place to take over for their aging F-14s. I even question the need for any significant number of advanced fighters when then money would be better spent for improved search and rescue vehicles or the Coast Guard and of course even outside of the military.

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200px-RAF_roundel.svg.png

300px-RAAF_Roundel.svg.png

200px-Rnzaf_roundel.svg.png

300px-RCAF-Roundel.svg.png

I always find these roundels funny.

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An updated version of the Avro Arrow now suddenly seems like a viable option, lol.

Exactly, and lets be logical here, if Canada was ever attacked by a foreign nation on our own soil (highly unlikely), the USA would immediately come to our assistance. We share the largest unfortified border on this planet. We are close allies with one of the most (if not most) powerful military force in the world.

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That replacement has long been complete: the F-14 was retired by the US Navy in 2006.

The F-35 certainly seems like an albatross and a lemon tossed together. However the alternatives are not very appealing. Purchasing Superhornets now, perhaps fully operational by 2020, would mean that Canada would be introducing a 25 year old improvement on a 42 year old prototype.

That said, it may be the most sensible option.

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The Conservatives are putting together a panel to consider all options for replacing the the aging CF-18 fighter jets. Included on the panel is University of Ottawa professor Philippe Lagassé, an outspoken critic of the F-35 jet procurement process.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Ottawa will explain itself next week on what it is doing to replace Canada’s aging CF-18 fighters. “There’s been a lot of speculation over the last 24 hours … next week there’ll be an open and transparent discussion about the next steps that are going to follow in the CF-18 replacement,” the Defence Minister told reporters.

Guess we should never have killed off the Avro Arrow, eh?

The Harper government is going shopping for alternatives to the controversial F-35 Lightning fighter jet in the most significant demonstration yet that it is prepared to walk away from its first choice for a new warplane.

In an attempt to head off public skepticism that Ottawa’s “options analysis” is something less than a rigorous rethink of which jet is best, the government is enlisting four independent monitors to vet the process.

They will include retired Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, who led the NATO mission in Libya, and University of Ottawa professor Philippe Lagassé, an outspoken critic of the jet procurement.

The Conservatives, who have been heavily criticized for selecting the F-35 without due regard for price and availability, are launching this effort to repair their credibility as stewards of public money by releasing new estimates that indicate the full lifetime costs of the F-35s have surpassed all previous forecasts and now exceed $40-billion.

The Conservatives announced in July, 2010, they had decided to buy the F-35 without any competition, and for more than a year and a half, described the jet purchase as a $9-billion acquisition. But in April, 2012, Auditor-General John Ferguson revealed it would cost $25-billion for the first 20 years alone.

To demonstrate that they are restarting the procurement process from scratch, Canadian officials will collect information from other plane manufacturers, including U.S.-based Boeing, maker of the Super-Hornet, and the consortium behind the Eurofighter Typhoon. They may also contact Sweden’s Saab, manufacturer of the Gripen, and France’s Dassault, maker of the Rafale.

Next week, the government will start this process by releasing National Defence’s updated cost estimates for buying 65 F-35 fighters, and an independent review by KPMG of the forecast price for keeping the jets flying for their full lifespan. The planes are expected to last 36 years, and they should be costed as such, the Auditor-General suggested in his April report.

Sources say the full price of ownership for the F-35 would add up to more than $40-billion when all costs, including fuel and upgrades, are included – or more than $1-billion a year over the F-35s’ lifespan.

This price, however, will not include the cost of extra planes to be bought for spare parts. The Auditor-General suggested in April that Canada would need 14 extra F-35s over 36 years, but sources say Ottawa believes it will more likely require only seven to 10 extra planes.

The government aims to complete this reappraisal of what the fighter aircraft market can offer Canada as expeditiously as possible in 2013. The government is requesting answers to questions, including: what kind of plane does Canada need? How long can Ottawa keep its aging CF-18s keep flying? Which jet makers can meet Canada’s budget and requirements in a timely fashion? Do other jets need to be purchased as a stop-gap? Is the best plane still the F-35?

The terms of reference for this options analysis, which will also be released next week, say Ottawa will “review and assess fighter aircraft currently in production and scheduled for production.” This will include the F-35.

The process will be vetted on a regular basis by the panel, which will also include former Communications Security Establishment chief Keith Coulter and former federal comptroller-general Rod Monette.

Government sources say Ottawa has not decided whether to call for competitive bids to supply a plane and will await the results of the options analysis.

It is apparent the Conservatives have little appetite for making a decision on a warplane right now – during a period of restraint when program spending is being cut – and government sources say the Tories could wait until after the next election, expected in 2015, before committing to a jet.

Separately, on Monday night, the Harper government poured cold water on a media report that a cabinet committee has quietly decided against buying the F-35. “Cabinet has not taken a decision on the F-35,” Andrew MacDougall, director of communications for the Prime Minister said. The story is “inaccurate on a number of points,” he said.

Canada has signed no contract to buy F-35s, and while it has signalled to Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer, that it wants 65, it has no obligation to buy them. It did sign a memorandum of understanding in 2006 that set the terms by which a country would buy the aircraft and also enabled domestic companies to compete for supply contracts for the plane.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-seek-alternatives-to-f-35-jet-as-cost-soars-to-more-than-40-billion/article6064818/

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It's fine that the Americans will have our backs but you still gotta fight your own fights. Being a sovereign nation requires you to have the ability to protect your own borders (micro-nations excluded). If we want the US to just take over everything, we'd might as well just join the US.

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Why can't Canada just build their own fighter jets. I mean Iran makes cars and jet fighters and they even export their cars to countries like India and Venezuela. Canada should start becoming more self sufficient instead of just relying on US to make them everything.

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Why can't Canada just build their own fighter jets. I mean Iran makes cars and jet fighters and they even export their cars to countries like India and Venezuela. Canada should start becoming more self sufficient instead of just relying on US to make them everything.

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Why can't Canada just build their own fighter jets. I mean Iran makes cars and jet fighters and they even export their cars to countries like India and Venezuela. Canada should start becoming more self sufficient instead of just relying on US to make them everything.

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