Monday, April 9, 2012

It's not that Elizabeth May is Right. It's that she's Wrong.

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.


  1. You've pointed out that this does stuff, and that at some point Canada may want to do those things. Part of the critique is 'why do we want to do said things' and 'how is canada bettered by doing those things?'

  2. Because my generation likes to make things go boom?

    The reality is that an event or conflict requiring the use of force [i]will[/i] happen. Canada's interests may be involved, and if not Canada's interests, then our regional and world interests. Globalization has had the funny effect that every conflict in the world is something that someone thousands of miles away will care about.

    It's just the way things are, and no amount of holding hands will change it. And when the time does come, having overwhelming, capable force is a good idea. Using that force in lieu of sending ground forces, which will always incur greater losses, is also a better idea.

  3. Read this before you make claims about the f35 being the best choice.

    This plane will be obsolete and a liability before we even take delivery and that's based only on the manufactures claims of the f35 few of which have been achieved in development so far ,

  4. As I understand it - and I'm not an expert, for sure, so I don't count on it for much - the F-35's and the Su-35's are more or less matched in their capabilities. However, the key is that most consider the F-35's stealth systems to be much more effective, even better than the F-22's, which in most simulations I've happened upon overpower Su-35's.

    See, really we should have gotten F-22's and that would be the "best" choice. However, the F-35's should prove to be more than efficient for what we need it for. We aren't heavy hitters, after all.

    Besides, the Americans wouldn't invest so much in it if they thought it would be inferior to the Sukhois. If there's one thing they take seriously down there, it's their military. Especially so given that Russia is selling the Su-35's to China.

  5. I'd rather our country not be useful in aggressor roles when it comes to war. Stealth (that doesn't even work) is not a defensive system.

    1. That's a matter of opinion, really. I see Canada as having a greater role in world affairs, diplomatically and if it comes down to it, militarily. Even if we don't follow that path, it's better we have something if it comes to us regardless. Insurance policy, you know.

  6. The report I posted shows the F35 is not capable of dogfighting with a modern jet, its slow, turns poorly, climbs poorly is under armed. This platfrom relys heaviliy on a stealth feature that once bypassed makes the plan an easy target.

    We also have to consider its short range nature, meaning we need air refueling capacity what's that going to cost. The F35 usese passive sensors lest it gives its location away, this means we need to buy and opperate a fleet of awacs to suppor them.

    We are not being given the entire picture, nor the entire cost.
    Perhaps we should buy 40 of the russian jet just to keep the Americans honest. After all they usually attack first.

    1. I've looked around after reading it over a couple of times and I've found conflicting opinions and facts. The Sukhois are fantastic planes, but they have inferior air-to-ground systems; the weaponry they carry is inferior; the stealth systems are inferior; and so on. The Sukhois and even some MiGs have faster speeds and longer ranges, but it again it goes to the heart of what I said: the F-35's are first-strike fighters, not long-term. The F-22's carry on that role, and even the Sukhois fail to match up to the Raptor.

      Read this, may make it clearer:

      Fact is we should be getting some F-22's, but the F-35's are fantastic and worthy in their own right.