Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines

Some time ago, yours truly did his own analysis of the Canadian government’s deal to buy the F-35 fighter/interceptor/everything, complete with Defense Minister Peter McKay lolling around the cockpit like a 14-year-old boy with freckles and zits getting to play Tom Cruise in his fantasies at an air show. Maybe the roll-out would have been more interesting for the Conservatives and the RCAF had Rona Ambrose rolled around the top of the fuselage the way Tawny Kitaen writhed on top of a Jaguar in that Whitesnake video.

I have to remember sometimes that I’m talking to kids here. “Daddy, what’s Whitesnake?” Never mind. I said too much.

I remember Whitworth’s predecessor, Mitch the Alphabet Boy, praising me for the story two and a half years ago, which meant a lot, but I was never happy with what I wrote. My only sources were the NDP’s defense critic at the time, and a couple of studies and comparisons of the F-35 that I found on the web. But David Olive of the Toronto Star does a good job with the resources he has at hand on the issue of Canada’s (hopefully not) next fighter jet.

Here’s the most damning part.

For all the F-35’s costly cornucopia of features, including a vaunted stealth function Canada doesn’t need but would pay for, the plane’s designers managed to leave out “long-range without refuelling,” a must for vast regions like Canada. “I don’t understand why Canada selected this aircraft,” Winslow Wheeler, a U.S. defence spending watchdog and former GAO staffer, said last year. And, in Wheeler’s assessment, the F-35 has been a washout on basic air-to-air and air-to-ground combat missions. “The F-35 is so mediocre on those essential dimensions it would be a bad buy at even half the cost.”

That’s right. $40 Billion can buy you a lot – and a lot better things than the wrong airplane for national defense, especially if you’re a government that’s not willing to spend money to make this country worth defending.
After reading Olive’s story, I don’t think I would trust McKay, Harper, and the leadership of the RCAF with the money for a run to Tim Horton`s, let alone with the defense of this nation.

Author: Stephen LaRose

2006 winner of the Canadian Association of University Teachers's Award of Excellence in Journalism for a bunch of prairie dog stuff. Invited into the best homes in Regina. Once.