Monday, November 10, 2014
If Harper Ordered Four F-35s, He Ordered More, a Lot More.
Word has leaked out of the Pentagon that Stephen Harper has ordered four F-35s for delivery in 2017.
He didn't order four.
No one would order four warplanes like the F-35. Harper would have ordered a lot more. Think in multiples of 12. 24 or 36 at least. It's those sort of numbers that would be the minimum necessary for an operational F-35 unit.
The operating and service costs of anything less, such as just four, would be prohibitive. In other words, if you've ordered four, you're ordering more.
For Harper, the F-35 is the safe bet. It satisfies the main issue, the political factor. The F-35 is ultimately a political decision. It's politically advantageous to buy and politically problematic to reject. When it comes to this sort of thing, Canada's political and military leadership are all "go along to get along" types.
From a military perspective the bloom is off the rose. The F-35 sacrificed a lot of capability for a limited, frontal-aspect only stealth masking. It sacrificed speed, agility, range and payload for supposed invisibility. It doesn't even have supercruise.
It's still years away from being operational in any meaningful numbers and already the intended adversaries have developed countermeasures and worked up tactics that the Americans acknowledge will defeat the F-35's stealth qualities. There's a reason, a very good reason, that the US Air Force and Navy are pushing hard to expedite a replacement before the F-35 even enters service.
The value of the F-35 and its apparent premature obsolescence (stillbirth) don't trump the political decision.