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F-35 Fighter Jet Purchase

BMO

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#1
Choose high-speed rail over F-35s
ottawacitizen.com
Sat Feb 4 2012
Section: OnLine
Byline: Ken Gray

Canada faces a much clearer and more present danger than the threat from anything the F-35 fighter jets will shoot down.

That's the hollowing out of Canada's manufacturing industry in southern Ontario and Quebec. Without the tax revenue that vital economic sector produces, Canada might not be able to purchase the military hardware and execute the effective foreign policy the country needs. If Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is concerned about the federal deficit, why is his government spending between $9 billion and $30 billion for the F-35 jets that now even U.S. hawks are concerned will cost, over their life cycle, more than $1 trillion south of the border? Would not this money be better spent to build the infrastructure to spur development of the Canadian economy so the federal government could afford jets sometime in the future?

So rather than save $9 billion or $30 billion on jets or, say, $2.5 billion over five years for provincial and federal governments on new crime legislation in the face of declining law-breaking statistics, the federal and provincial politicians have thrown cold water on one infrastructure project that could stimulate and revolutionize Canada's critical economic corridor from Toronto to Ottawa to Montreal - the high-speed rail project, the subject of a recent feasability report. One could understand the province dropping the bullet train; it has an enormous deficit and massive future financial problems dealing with health-care costs. But the federal government choosing $9 billion in fighter planes over $9 billion in rail, stimulus and infrastructure? Bad choice.

That rail project would pour money into a region that badly needs help. The reasons for the sector's troubles are well known.

The long-term increase in the price of oil, and the fact that Western Canada sits on top of the second largest pool of the stuff in the world, is boosting the value of the loonie. That makes exporting high-tech products or attracting movie projects on the basis of a 70-cent dollar a foggy memory. A dollar at par with its U.S. counterpart makes exporting or attracting industry (Ontario
produces more autos than any other state or province in North America) very difficult.

So let's just say that Western Canada or Hibernia's Newfoundland don't need federal stimulus now with oil profits gushing in. Central Canada? That's a different matter.

In the U.S. despite Congress chopping much of the six-year, $53-billion Obama plan for nationwide, high-speed rail, a bullet train is still likely to be built between Boston and Washington while the Anaheim to San Francisco high-speed line is expected to be completed by 2017 with $3.9 billion in federal funding. But then the U.S. has always been better at spending a dollar to make two than Canada ever has been.

A 1996 report on the U.S. Interstate Highway System by the American Highway Users Alliance shows what infrastructure spending can do. That report said the freeway system, begun in 1956, produced $6 in economic benefit for every dollar spent.

"It is not an exaggeration, but a simple statement of fact, that the interstate highway system is an engine that has driven 40 years of unprecedented prosperity and positioned the United States to remain the world's pre-eminent power into the 21st century," the report said on the 40th anniversary of the Interstate system. Over those four decades, the freeway network cost about $329 billion in 1996 dollars.

But it also revolutionized transportation, an important factor in industrial production. Reliable freeways enabled industry to adopt ontime delivery which cut the amount of warehouse space and labour to maintain it. Efficient highways meant lower costs for shipping to markets or for receiving raw materials. And it facilitated door-todoor delivery of important goods and raw materials that the old, slow train system could not.

Imagine where Ontario would be today were it not for Highway 401 replacing the antiquated two-lane Highway 2 through the heart of the province.

High-speed rail could do the same for travel that now-dated freeways did for commerce. At a time when high-cost oil is making air and road transportation much more expensive (perhaps in the future prohibitively so), high-speed rail takes travellers straight to urban downtowns without the slowness of driving or the high-cost and awkward land transfers of air. High-speed rail is the 21st-century Highway 401 of transportation in contrast to the old Highway 2 that is last-century's road and air.

Yet Flaherty's government persists in buying F-35s or enacting expensive crime legislation instead of spending $9 billion on revenue-producing high-speed rail. The line would bring together people to facilitate the interchange of ideas, something that, with an Ottawa stop on the line, could encourage this government to right its misplaced priorities.
 
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Mulder

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#2
Choose high-speed rail over F-35s
ottawacitizen.com
Sat Feb 4 2012
Section: OnLine
Byline: Ken Gray
Disagree with the above article. Despite all the negativity around the Jets, they are needed. And we need to invest much more in the Arctic or we'll lose it.


There is currently 3 or 4 land claims now right on what we consider Canadian Soil, by Russia, U.S. and Denmark.
 

Tulse

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#3
The F-35 is absurdly expensive for a country like Canada, and continues to increase in cost. There are plenty of other far cheaper options that Canada could pursue, and plough that money back into more vital projects, like high-speed rail.
 

nfitz

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#4
There is currently 3 or 4 land claims now right on what we consider Canadian Soil, by Russia, U.S. and Denmark.
Right - the USA and Russia would be stopped by really expensive jets, but not by more reasonably priced ones.

Do you also suggest we start making nuclear missiles instead, to match the USA and Russia?
 

Mulder

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#5
Right - the USA and Russia would be stopped by really expensive jets, but not by more reasonably priced ones.

Do you also suggest we start making nuclear missiles instead, to match the USA and Russia?
I was making a point for investing in Arctic bases to assert our sovereignty there, not saying the jets would stop anything. But as it seems, we would much rather watch as we lose territory up north. We are already well behind the Russians thanks to years of Liberal inaction.
 

rbt

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#7
Right - the USA and Russia would be stopped by really expensive jets, but not by more reasonably priced ones.

Do you also suggest we start making nuclear missiles instead, to match the USA and Russia?
Canada is generally considered to be nucler armed simply because we have all the technology and necessary components to build them. In fact, we have built and sold them.

Simply put, we could have a nuclear strike prepared and launched before an invasion could occur from anywhere but the USA. If the USA decided to invade Canada; neither side would win (severe economic hardship for both parties).
 

Mulder

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#8
So let's build bases instead of buying the boondoggle JSF.
We are as well. While also replacing 30 year old jets.

Of course we could just buy used. Since the Liberals did such a good job buying those Sub's from UK.
 

nfitz

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#9
I was making a point for investing in Arctic bases to assert our sovereignty there, not saying the jets would stop anything. But as it seems, we would much rather watch as we lose territory up north. We are already well behind the Russians thanks to years of Liberal inaction.
We'll lose it all one day when the Inuit, Dene, and Inuvialuk separate. Why waste the money now instead of spending it on something useful.?
 

themarc

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#10
I was making a point for investing in Arctic bases to assert our sovereignty there, not saying the jets would stop anything. But as it seems, we would much rather watch as we lose territory up north. We are already well behind the Russians thanks to years of Liberal inaction.
I would say do something more effective : Lets build a couple of super prisons up there - I would say that would be a hell of a deterrent to criminals (well at least from getting caught) and if anyone did escape they'd be at the mercy of mother nature, the Polar Bears in winter or the mosquitoes in summer (take your pick). Not a military deterrent but who'd want to have to deal with that problem when invading?

Be expensive to service but in reality - who'd want to be sent t a prison where 6 months of the year its dark outside and no chance of escaping to civilization alive???
 

kEiThZ

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#11
We should be buying both.

The defence needs of this country should not be tied with the transport needs of this country. And realistically, we have money for both.

As somebody who works in defence procurements and understands the costing, I can tell you that a lot of the media stories are quite deceiving. What isn't understood about buying combat aircraft is that you don't just buy the airplane. There's targetting pods, fuel drop tanks, ordinance, etc. A big reason the Air Force wants the F-35 is because it comes with all these (internal targetting pods, internal ordinance carriage significantly reducing drag and bring back capability, software upgradeable sensors, etc.). Price out a Super Hornet with all the accoutrements, and you'll see that the F-35 isn't as expensive and the competition isn't as cheap as the newspaper stories say they are. Though it does suit Boeing's marketing quite well when they say their plane costs half of the cost of the JSF (what they don't say is how much they'll charge for everything else once they sell you the airplane).

Then there's lifecycle costs. Engines represent 40% of the total cost of aircraft maintenance. Virtually, every alternative to the F-35 is a twin engine aircraft. Routine training would add billions from increased fuel burn (though there are efforts underway to move to synthetic and biofuels). And the cost of maintenance would be substantially higher for a twin engine bird. Aside from maintenance is the cost of spares. Because the F-35 will still be bought by the thousands, the cost of spares will be low. Compare that to the competition. The Gripen has sold to a handful of countries. The Super Hornet has two users: the US Navy and the Aussies. Buying something few others buy is a recipe for skyrocketing spares pricing.

And lastly on the airplane side, obsolescence. This is Canada, where our military only gets new aircraft every 30-40 years. Just look at the Sea Kings, the Buffalos and some of the Hercules transport fleet. All from the late 60s, early 70s. Now imagine the task that Air Force planners face. We have to buy platforms that ensure they can provide the combat power the government mandates the Air Force through 30-40 years of service life. They have to stay combat relevant a generation from now. In that scenario buying a cheaper aircraft to then replace it in 15-20 years, after it's obsolete, is not allowed. So the planners are forced to buy the latest and greatest now and hope it has the growth room to last 30-40 years. We did this with the current Hornet fleet. Before that the CF had a policy of maintaining a heavy and a light fighter fleet. There's no apetite (or budgets or human resources) these days for two fighter fleets.

Finally, even going cheap on the aircraft replacement won't get you HSR. Trading the F-35 for Super Hornets might save $3 on acquisition costs (while using up more than that over the next 20 years in maintenance and fuel burn). But that's hardly enough to buy an HSR.

None of that is to say that HSR is not needed. Just that such things shouldn't be tied together. They certainly aren't elsewhere. You don't see the Brits, the French, the Germans or the Japanese buying cheaper combat aircraft to put more HSR in. And none of them are cutting their combat aircraft fleet in half like we are about to do.
 
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kEiThZ

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#12
Canada is generally considered to be nucler armed simply because we have all the technology and necessary components to build them. In fact, we have built and sold them.

Simply put, we could have a nuclear strike prepared and launched before an invasion could occur from anywhere but the USA. If the USA decided to invade Canada; neither side would win (severe economic hardship for both parties).
Are you on crack?

We aren't considered nuclear armed. Indeed, as a CTBT and NPT signatory, we generally avoid the idea. We do, however, fall under the American nuclear umbrella. And it's generally accepted doctrine that if our country or our troops in the field got nuked, that the US would go to bat for us.

And putting together a nuke in hours is certainly beyond the realm of even fantasy.

But that's sadly not the craziest thing in this thread. The idea that Americans would invade Canada is probably dumber than that.

Russians grabbing part of our claimed EEZ in the Arctic though, is sadly not beyond the realm of fantasy.
 

kEiThZ

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#13
So let's build bases instead of buying the boondoggle JSF.
Empty bases aren't enough. You need planes to fly from them.

And bases are being built. The CF has refurbished forward operating bases in the Arctic. And has certified the C-17 to operate at Alert, removing the need to transit supplies through Thule, Greenland (always touchy in light of the Hans Island dispute with the Danes). There's an Arctic deepwater port in the planning stages right now.

As for boondoggle....meh. Every single fighter project has had that label. Remember the arguments over the C-17? Over a billion for 4 aircraft. Guess what, even the Liberals and NDP aren't complaining any more. If (heaven forbid), a major natural disaster ever struck BC, this would be one of the few assets the CF has to bring substantial relief immediately over the Rockies. And that capability has been aptly demonstrated several times since the aircraft has come into service (with every natural disaster worldwide). The alternatives proposed by the opposition? The A400M still isn't in service. Leased carriers proved unreliable in Sri Lanka. Sometimes, guys like me who work to study this stuff actually know what we are doing.....
 
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rbt

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#14
Are you on crack?
I can assure you that for the purposes of invasion into Canada, this is a consideration taken in those scenarios.

It's not that we have arms on hand, it's that we could build and launch nuclear armed rockets before an invading force could be assembled off our shore.

Politically we are not like that. Militarily we are considered nucler capable for most defensive scenarios.

Bear in mind just how long it takes for relations to fall apart to the point where Canada would be defensive and how long it takes the US (one of the more mobile forces) to prepare a small invasion force (about 1 year for Iraq).
 
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kEiThZ

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#15
You are on crack. Ive worked at headquarters in operational planning. Even contemplating a fantastic scenario where the Americans would invade, how exactly would you use a nuke? You seem to forget that they have their own and there would be a response. And no, despite the movies, there is no way to make a thermonuclear warhead in hours. It can take that long to just to mate one.

You can persist in discussing a topic you know nothing about if you wish. But then what to do I know? It's not like my colleagues served as UN weapons inspectors in Iraq or anything like that. And its certainly not like I provided support for their mission. Nope. You must know more about putting nukes together in hours. You know, there's lots of places that would pay you millions forvsuch knowledge.

I can assure you that for the purposes of invasion into Canada, this is a consideration taken in those scenarios.

It's not that we have arms on hand, it's that we could build and launch nuclear armed rockets before an invading force could be assembled off our shore.

Politically we are not like that. Militarily we are considered nucler capable for most defensive scenarios.

Bear in mind just how long it takes for relations to fall apart to the point where Canada would be defensive and how long it takes the US (one of the more mobile forces) to prepare a small invasion force (about 1 year for Iraq).