Lately, Michael Harris has turned his sights on military equipment -- its sale and purchase. When it comes to those Saudi armored vehicles, he says, there's a skunk in the woodpile. And a familiar stench is beginning to arise -- again -- over the F-35. Over at the Ministry of Defense, the word is that the purchase of the F-35 is still under consideration -- despite Justin Trudeau's promise that it was dead. Harris writes:
This is an issue in which Justin Trudeau either earns his wings as a new type of politician, or he ditches in the same sea of double-talk that swallowed up his predecessors. Either his government is running the show, or bureaucrats over at Industry Canada are – the ones who are still dazzled by the lure of industrial benefits for the Canadian aerospace industry if Canada only sticks with the F-35.
The Harper government pumped out plenty of fog about the F-35. And the United States Air Force continues to cloud the skies. But the news on the F-35 -- and how it performs -- keeps getting worse:
Despite all the public relations that tax dollars can buy, the Pentagon doesn’t even know if the $100-million planes are fit for combat. In the United States, the F-35 program was supposed to deliver 1,013 aircraft by fiscal 2016; it has delivered 179. Since the project began in 2003, the cost of the aircraft has doubled. According to the Government Budget Office in Washington, it costs $30,000 an hour to fly. The last F-35 is now scheduled to be delivered in 2040 — fifth generation jets produced at horse and buggy speeds.
Five of six F-35s were recently unable to take off from Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. After 15 years of “development” and billions of dollars of investment, the planes could not boot up their proprietary software to get airborne — a story first reported in Flight Global and picked up by the Daily Mail.
Consider the opinion of that well-known peacenik John McCain about the F-35 program. If anyone should have been an advocate for this futuristic weapon it should have been McCain. Instead, America’s most famous pilot-cum-POW and the Republican senator from Arizona, excoriated the F-35 last week at a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said he could not “fathom” how the delivery schedule of the F-35 made any strategic sense. He added that the history of the F-35, “has been both a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance.”
Mr. Trudeau still needs to prove he's in charge -- not the oil barons, and not the military-industrial complex. Grounding the Flying Edsel would be a step in the right direction.