Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Canada's New Fighter Aircraft

Well, it's about time. The Federal Conservative government is ordering replacements for our out of date fighter aircraft. The new F-35 stealth fighter is on line to replace our fleet of CF-18's which were purchased from 1982 to 1988. That's over 20 years that the CF-18 has been in service. It still is in service only because of a much needed upgrade to its sensors and avionics.

Of course the opposition parties are screaming over the $9 billion price tag and untendered maintenance contracts. Personally I think they federal Liberals and NDP should be told to go pound sand. They are typically whining about the costs and the current economy, and how we can't really afford them. I think that not purchasing the new generation of aircraft is a mistake that we will regret in the future.

One thing that most people aren't aware of is that Canada was one of the partners in the development phase of the F-35. That means we have money in the game from the very start.

Of course things can go badly. Remember when the Progressive Conservatives ordered replacement helicopters to replace the elderly Sea Kings? For those of you that didn't follow that story here it is in a nutshell. The Mulroney government decided to replace the Sea Kings with a new helicopter. They didn't send it out to tender, they just picked one that would do the job. Well the PC party lost the next election and one of the first things that the Chretien Liberals did was cancel the contract. Well that cost money. Not to mention lives. In the period that the contract was canceled, aging airframes and increasing maintenance may have been factors in several crashes that caused deaths of Canadian soldiers. The Liberal government seemed to dither and hem and haw about which aircraft they would buy to replace the Sea Kings. A new helicopter was finally selected and they are going into service now. Over ten years since the original problem was noted and acted on by the Progressive Conservative party.

Now we are facing replacement of another aging aircraft. I just hope that the Conservative party remains in power long enough that we have an iron clad contract. We need to replace military equipment as the times and conflicts change. There's nothing more embarrassing than going into battle with equipment that is older than most of your troop base. Trust me I have seen this and experienced it in my time. It also seems that whenever the Conservatives are in power the military gets modernized and upgraded. Liberals? Military budgets are the first item on chopping blocks.

Keep your fingers crossed people.

1 comment:

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