Monday, January 31, 2011

Canadian military wants F-35 fighter jets

Canadian military wants F-35 fighter jets | Canada | News | Edmonton Sun

Sooooo... Let's see if I have this right.

The military wants these jets. They have gone through all of their due diligence over the past 12 years to ensure that this jet has all of the capabilities it needs to replace the F-18 Hornets and perform the tasks these jets will be asked to perform over the next 30-40 years (the first ones roll off the assembly line sometime around about 2017).

So why then would we deny the military the equipment that it asks for? What possible purpose would serve us to delay the replacement of equipment before it passes its useful life?

The military asked for heavy-lift helicopter replacements in the late 80s and early 90s.  Mulroney gave them, Chretien took them away.  We still haven't replaced them, and it is arguable that the lack of heavy lift capability lead to higher casualty and mortality rates in Afghanistan among other peace-keeping operations.

The military asked for submarines, and Chretien gave them 4.  Total cost of the submarines purchased in 1998 was $976 million.  Estimates were that it cost that again to refurbish them so that their design flaws were corrected.

So now the military is asking for replacement fighter jets.  Some would question why we need fighters at all.  After all, can't our allies just pick up that part of a military operation, leaving us to fill in the gap in other areas where we are well equipped?  My answer would be "no".

It's not enough that we have some military, like these people are just some guys to go out and break up bar fights in Egypt, Cyprus, Darfur or Rwanda.  No.  That's not their purpose.  Their purpose is to be ready to defend our soil or our ideals where ever they are deployed.

I'm going to say that again.  Their purpose is to be ready to defend our soil or our ideals where ever they are deployed.

Our military needs to be properly equipped for any task they are asked to do.  This isn't about specializing in tasks and expecting our allies to fill in the gaps.  This is about being able to perform any task required of them with the proper equipment when they are called on.  Be it being resupplied via heavy-lift choppers, or patrolling the coast with ships and submarines.  Be it patrolling the skies in fighter jets, or on the land in tanks or LAVs.  Regardless of the task being asked, our military should be able to perform it to the best of their ability and with the proper equipment for the task.

And to be quite frank, there should be no political interference.  No other country in the world allows a politician to interfere in the procurement process as much as Canada does.  NO OTHER COUNTRY.

As part of Mr. Bernier's proposal to limit spending in the federal government, I would humbly make one suggestion.  Currently the Canadian Forces budget encompasses less than 10% of the federal budget.  I would propose to increase that allocation to at least 10% and make them responsible for their own procurement.  Remove the politics from military procurement and allow the military to choose their own equipment.  If they can't spend it all, let them build up a fund to pay cash for future procurements.  It's only right, after all, there are lives at stake, and a properly equipped force is an effective force.

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