If cost has shot down the F-35, let's put all options on the table
A pair of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters are shown in this undated handout photo.
Published Friday, December 7, 2012 5:34PM EST
There's no better practitioner of stealth technology than this Conservative government, particularly when it comes to dodging detection on the F-35 jet fighter purchase.
The price, the process and the purchase requirements have been shrouded in clouds of bureaucracy to render the truth invisible on the public's radar.
As revealed first on yesterday's Power Play, a report to be released early next week will show a dramatic escalation in the all-in price of buying 65 stealth jet fighters. The $9-billion purchase price will soar above $40 billion with all operational and maintenance costs factored in.
But even more interesting is how the Conservatives will give up cheerleading the F-35, which has priced itself out of viable contention. The government will finally order a complete threat assessment and scour the market for the type of jet needed to fight in the future, whether they have stealth capabilities or not.
This obviously should've been the first step in 2002 under Liberal rule, not late-stage damage control in 2012 as our existing CF-18 fleet nears the end of its flight plan.
But perhaps this better-late-than-never move will allow the government to save some face -- and hopefully billions of public dollars.
If the F-35 is a loaded luxury model we don't need and can't afford, we must get out now before the first multi-billion-dollar down payment.
If there are cheaper models delivering acceptable performances, this is the time to buy them.
But the review should zero in on a couple key considerations.
This is undoubtedly the last piloted jet Canada will ever order. Unmanned drones are the fighters of the future.
And with radar technology advancing so quickly, stealth will not keep jets invisible much longer.
Given that, there's a third fact to consider.
Any $100-million pilot-flown jet we buy now could soon be just one lucky shot away from being taken down by a $10,000 stealth-busting drone. That's the most sobering statistic of them all.
That's the Last Word.