Defence planners worried about F-35 costs before reset: documents
An F-35B Joint Strike Fighter touches down on the tarmac at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 20, 2012. (Yuma Sun / Craig Fry)
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, May 14, 2013 4:52PM EDT
OTTAWA -- One year after the Harper government committed to buying the F-35 fighter, defence planners overseeing the project expressed concern about how much it would cost to maintain the sophisticated jet once it arrived.
Internal briefings released under the Access to Information Act show air force officials were worried in 2011 about the project's "affordability," and what it would do to future operation, maintenance and national procurement budgets.
The Harper government announced in 2010 it had selected the F-35 as the country's next manned fighter.
More than 1,120 pages of documents, obtained by The Canadian Press, highlight new concerns about the radar-evading jet and its potential impact on both the military and the federal treasury.
Retired air force colonel Paul Maillet, a critic of the F-35 program, was startled by several aspects of the briefings and described the sustainment plan as a potential "rabbit hole for money."
The Harper government put the project on hold last fall and launched a market analysis of what other fighter jets might be out there, but the F-35 remains a contender.