I find this HuffPo article by Green Party Leader/MP Elizabeth May to be hilariously silly.
The post essentially claims that the Lockheed Martin F-35 jets are "useless" to Canadians and our country's military, and that aside from the procurement and some of the development being a huge doonboggle (which it absolutely is), it's not the right fit for Canadians. Not that she has an alternative to replace the CF-18 - just that, you know, the F-35 is bad.
I'm against the F-35 purchase for one major reason: the procurement process. It wasn't open to competition, and given the problems we do seem to be having, and the fact that everyone knew we'd likely have these problems, it absolutely should've been. Had the process been open, we may have already had replacement jets en route, instead of attempting to extend the CF-18's lifetime. It's an obsolete machine, we can only flog this horse a little while longer. Instead while we wait for the F-35's issues to be resolved, and we wait for the final bill, we spend more money extending our current fleet. Fantastic.
But let's get the facts straight - the F-35 joint-strike fighter is what Canada needs if we want to be useful in any future military operation, and there will be future military operations, you can bet on that.
First off, May's assertion that we don't need carrier-based planes is true - that's why there is three versions of the F-35, with the F-35A being the ones we're likely to buy in bulk, which are CTOL (Convention Take-Off and Landing), a.k.a. land-bassed; the F-45B outfitted with the STOVL system (Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing), which are similar to the Harrier jets the British use; and the F-35C being the carrier-based plane. So she's either misleading for uninformed on that point.
Two, single-engine planes like the F-35 are just as reliable as the twin-engine CF-18's, or at the very least the amount of issues are similar. The success of the French-designed Mirage series of fighters serves as a brilliant example of single-engine planes doing a brilliant job in their roles. Moreover, just because Canada is bigger, as May alludes to, does not mean twin-engine jets are more suitable. Half of the MiG fleets that saw any use during the Cold War were single-engine, and the CF-104 Starfighter was in use here in Canada for decades. It's an irrelevant point.
Third - the F-35 is the coolest fighter you're going to come across, ever. It's capabilities as a defensive and offensive fighter are years ahead of what is currently deployed by the Air Force. It's air-to-air, it's air-to-ground, it's air-to-anything-anywhere. It's the physical embodiment of "shock & awe." It's designed to drop by, say hello, then leave, without anyone knowing it was there. It's just brilliant, and even if we were to replace our fleet with someone else in the short-term, we'd have to get the F-35 eventually, if we wanted to keep pace with the rest of the world. And unlike subs, we actually need an up-to-date Air Force, because since the 1980's, it's been the main way we conduct war. Just read this. It's awesome.
I'm not pleased with the issues surrounding the procurement, the secrecy, and just the idiotic job done by this government. No one should be. But honestly, I'm not pleased with the posturing done by Lizzy May - yet another reason why I would never vote for her party. At least stick to the facts. Don't distort them. And trust me, there's enough there in MacKay's handling of everything to make your case.
Though on one point, she is right - we do need more search and rescue planes.