Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Hey Washington. If You Want Us to Stand Up to Putin, Why Not Sell Us the Plane He Doesn't Want Us to Have?
The events of the past few months have made us again think of the unthinkable.
A resurgent Russia, talk from its president about the use of nuclear weapons, the deployment of new missiles, subs and strategic bombers. Sure we did a fair bit to egg this on but that doesn't change the fact of where we find ourselves today.
Which naturally brings me back to the F-35, the overpriced, underperforming and woefully overdue wunderplane from Lockheed. The hype has now pretty much run its course. We know that, to the extent it ever was stealthy, it was only frontal aspect. It was still visible to air defence radars from the sides, from the top or bottom, from the back. We now know it was stealthy for one band of radio frequencies but not others and our targeted adversaries know that too and have developed multi-band radars that can pick it up.
So, between the bad guys hacking the contractors' secrets and computer code, and the extended passage of time lost to delays, the F-35 is more expensive than ever but less of a bargain than ever also. Is this any time, then, to be gutting our military budgets for decades in order to saddle ourselves with America's second best?
What we need is something that's really fast, with supercruise and thrust vectoring. We need a plane that can carry a reasonable weapons payload over a significant distance. It would be nice to have a plane with all-aspect stealth. We need a plane that is truly multi-role, capable of handling Canada's air defence needs in a rapidly remilitarizing Arctic. We need a plane that has redundant systems, twin engines.
So why should the US try to stick us with something we don't need? Why won't the US allow its allies to get a new deal from Lockheed to purchase an updated version of the F-22 Raptor, one updated to incorporate the electronic wizardry of the F-35?
That would be the plane that Vlad Putin would rather Canada not have at its disposal in the Arctic. Surely that's reason enough that the Americans should want us to have it.