Canada’s F-35 Purchase is a Costly Mistake, say Journal Authors

Media Release
For Immediate Release
February 8, 2012

OTTAWA – A new study lays out the flaws in the Government’s planned purchase of the F-35 fighter jet and proposes viable alternatives to the program.

The results are put forward in an article entitled Canada’s F-35 purchase is a costly mistake, written by University of British Columbia Political Science Professor Michael Byers and Stewart Webb, Research Associate with the Salt Spring Forum. It was published this week in the respected Canadian Foreign Policy Journal.

The article weighs the potential benefits of the F-35 against the rising costs and the technical limitations of the program. Co-author Michael Byers hopes the peer-reviewed study will re-open the debate about the F-35 program. “At a time of fiscal restraint and major geopolitical change putting all of our eggs in the F-35 basket seems unwise, even irresponsible” said Byers.

The report’s main findings include:

• The risk of Arctic states going to war is very low. Canadian and US officials do not view Russia as a potential enemy, making the need for the F-35 in continental air defense questionable at best.

• The projected unit cost of the F-35 has been estimated by the Parliamentary Budget Officer to be US$128 million and may well be higher.

• Instead of the F-35, Canada should continue to rely on the recently upgraded CF-18s for another decade while shifting toward a more mixed fleet that includes Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

• A wait-and-see approach would ensure that a number of uncertainties are resolved before Canada commits itself to three-decade-long $20-30 billion program, including the actual costs and capabilities of the F-35, the cost and capabilities of the next generation of UAVs, and the direction of geopolitical developments.

• If there is a need to supplement the CF-18s with a small number of new fighter aircraft, proven alternatives are available at significantly lower cost – and with greater overall capabilities – than the F35s.

It is not too late for the Canadian government to change its mind. No contract has been signed and there is no legal obligation to purchase any aircraft.

“Despite the government’s commitment to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter, there is no signed contract,” says Steven Staples, President of the Rideau Institute. ”This will be the most expensive military project in Canadian history.”

The Rideau Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit, public-interest research, advocacy and consulting group based in Ottawa.

“Canada’s F-35 purchase is a costly mistake” is available in the most recent issue of the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal.

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For more information contact:

Steven Staples, President
o. 613 565-9449 c. 613-290-2695 e. sstaples@rideauinstitute.ca

 

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