Thursday, November 08, 2012

Aerial Buyer's Remorse?

Ever buy something with all the bells and whistles only to realize you spent a lot of money on fancy extras you'll never need or even use?

Don't blame the sales staff.   They're in the business to "up sell" you whenever possible.   There's usually a lot more profit in a $400 widget than in a $100 widget.

Our military leadership seem to be suckers for the "up sell."  They naturally want the latest and greatest.   Theirs is a competitive business and no one wants to be saddled with second-best or third-best.

The question today is whether our military brass has been "up sold" on the F-35 possibly partially stealthy, light attack bomber, and whether that underlies their fanciful low-ball cost estimates; their reticence at coming up with a coherent slate of operational requirements for Canada's next jet fighter and their wildly optimistic predictions that the F-35 will be our frontline fighter for fully half a century?

It's as though they're now trying to "up sell" the government and the Canadian public on this aircraft.

Having been around in Ottawa throughout the process that led to Canada's choice of the CF-18 over the competing F-14, F-15, F-16 and Panavia Tornado, I can state the F-35 debacle is like night and day.   There was far more confidence and certainty in the choice of the CF-18 and virtually none of the controversy and speculation that enshrouds the F-35.   Best of all, once we stipulated our requirements - Canada's requirements, not Japan's - we had a real competition, complete with an extensive fly-off.

There's just way too much arm-twisting and obfuscation with the F-35 and the way it's being ushered in, above and below the table.  If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are...

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