Don Martin: Canada at risk of becoming garbage pickers of the world
You see them driving up and down streets in beat-up pickups on garbage day, rummaging along the curb for items with flea market sales potential.
With reports of Canada negotiating for a used surveillance drone, one stripped of its hi-tech navigating equipment and considered scrap-worthy by German defence officials, we are at risk of becoming the garbage pickers of the world.
Our coastal sovereignty is backed by 1970s diesel submarines that were dented, dangerous and already severely used by Britain when we bought them in 1998. They have spent far more time in dry dock being repaired than on patrol.
Our jet fighter capability gap, deemed so urgent we were warned Canada’s NATO and NORAD obligations were at risk, is being filled with 25 jets designated surplus by the Australian air force. They’re already so old that seven of these F-18s will be bought for parts.
Now this: A 20-year-old drone prototype deemed unsafe to fly in Europe – a rather major impediment to successful drone deployments – is being considered for Canadian purchase.
To be fair, there may be a need for a drone to replace the two piloted planes now patrolling our coastlines on the lookout for everything from oil slicks to polar bears.
Curiously, there’s a Canadian-made world-class satellite called Radarsat-2 parked overhead which claims environmental monitoring and marine surveillance as key objectives.
But I digress.
Transport Canada officials point out there’s a budget to buy a non-military drone, but let’s at very least buy one that comes with the modern capability to patrol our Arctic vastness.
Talks are far from finished. There’s time to stop and shop for a drone from this century that won’t need a major upgrade after having all its U.S. guidance systems stripped from its innards.
At the risk of droning on, we are a country that can’t build navy ships on time or budget, is still replacing Sea King helicopters which arrived when John F. Kennedy was U.S. president and has a government which will fail to order new fighter jets in this mandate.
On the bright side, Canada is displaying a unique skill set.
When it comes to wringing or extending the life of equipment others deem surplus, salvage or scrap, we are second to none.
That’s the Last Word.