Much of the media, and therefore the public, have been ill informed with regards to the aging CF-18s and the potential purchase of the F-35. Thus, I felt compelled to provide some factual information on the F-35 and to clarify the procurement process that will be used to replace our aging CF-18s.
For decades, the Department of National Defense and the Canadian Forces have been underfunded. Since 2006, the government has clearly stated that that they will ensure that our armed forces are able to protect our country, interests and values, while contributing to international peace and security. The steps taken are evidence of that promise.
It is indisputable that the CF-18s are near the end of their life span and action needs to be taken. In fact, the procurement process to obtain the replacement jets began before the present government took office. However, the original mandatory “Statement of Requirements” for the purchase of the F-35 has been set aside. There is now a new seven point plan that includes the rules that will guide the review of alternative fighter aircrafts. No decision will be made until a thorough review is complete.
With regards to cost, the government has set a budget of $9 billion to purchase a new fighter aircraft and this amount has and will not change. The rumours about 45.8 billion in costs include long-term operating costs, such as maintenance, fuel and salaries. The estimated operating costs of $1 billion per year will be incurred regardless of whether the F-35 is purchased. Further, instead of prospecting these costs over a 20 year period, the Auditor General recommended that the costs be examined over a period of 42 years, to match the life span of the F-35. By including the cost for 22 additional years, it is obvious that the operating costs will be proportionately higher.
Regardless of what aircraft is chosen, I would hope all Canadians want the same thing: safety and security. Finally, steps are being taken to ensure Canada’s military needs as well as our international commitments are met.
Jennifer Tassone, Peachland