[RANT] Hey, Billie Flynn, war isn't playtime.

Pay to play?

One of the most predominant people in the Canadian F-35 saga is Lockheed Martin test pilot William (Billie) Flynn.  Flynn's resume certainly is impressive.  Before working for Lockheed Martin he was a CF-18 pilot and commanding officer for 441 Squadron at CFB Cold Lake.  He's flown combat missions over Kosovo, and has seat time with some of today's most impressive fighter jets, including the F-18, F-16, Typhoon, Tornado, and of course, the F-35.  He's even married to real-life astronaut.

Without a doubt, Billie Flynn knows much more about the fighter jet business than I do.

But why does he say so many stupid and ridiculous things?

Flynn claimed that the F-35's kinematics were better than a Super Hornet or a Typhoon.  He was immediately called out by a fellow test pilot.  The F-35 has nowhere near the thrust-to-weight, nor the wing-loading of a Typhoon.  Downgrades to the F-35's performance specs don't do much to back up Flynn's argument either.  The best I can figure out is that Flynn is comparing a full internal load F-35 (about 5,000lbs of weapons) with a Typhoon carrying a full external load, which can get as high as 16,500lbs worth of bombs, missiles and extra fuel.

Sure, whatever, Billie works for Lockheed Martin. It's his job to make the F-35 look as capable as possible, while downplaying the effectiveness of the competition.  Test pilots seem to be seem to be more and more like Don Draper nowadays, and less like Chuck Yeager.

In a recent article in the Globe and Mail, there is a quote from Billie Flynn that goes far beyond simple marketing speak, and simply enters the realm of stupidity and callousness:
“The next time we go to war … you will not be allowed to play unless you have the same capability as everyone else,” said Billie Flynn of Lockheed Martin. “You have to be interoperable, you have to have the same equipment, at the same level of sophistication, you have to have all the sensors, you have to communicate, you have to have the equivalent of broadband networking from one airplane to next, to pass on these sophisticated information.”
What...  The...  Fuck?

"Not be allowed to play?"

Hey, Billie...  War isn't fucking playtime.

You wouldn't think someone with actual wartime experience would say something like this, but there it is.

Military actions aren't some sort of damn sports event where you aren't allowed on the field without the right equipment.  Warzones aren't golf courses requiring a dress code and a tucked in shirt.  Military strikes are the last resort when diplomacy doesn't work.  They aren't some international dick measuring competition where coalition forces get together and show off their latest gizmos.

Going to war isn't some privilege allotted to only those willing to spend top dollar on fancy equipment. Going to war isn't like getting a membership at an exclusive country club.

Going to war means that many of our best will sacrifice their lifestyles, their health, their very sanity.

Going to war means families will be ripped apart.

Going to war means people will die.

If Canada gets dragged into a war, it won't be to show off.  If for some reason, we aren't allowed to join a coalition, then we obviously weren't needed there in the first place.  As a civilized society, and as a country with a peaceful reputation, our aim is to avoid war...  Not to join in with the warmongering nations just because it is the "in thing to do".

Oh...  One last thing...

See that graphic above?  That's a representation of all the coalition forces that participated in the Libyan campaign of 2011.  Just to name a few of the many aircraft that participated, the UK sent Typhoons, the French sent in Rafales and Mirages, Canada sent in CF-18s, Sweden sent in Gripens.  F-16s from various countries joined in, as did just about every aircraft in the American arsenal (except for the F-22).

Despite the many different forces operating many different types of equipment, the operation was more-or-less a success, and nobody wasn't "allowed to play" because they didn't have the right equipment.  Yes, there were some issues, but certainly nothing requiring that each partner nation to bring identical equipment or go home.

I'm not sure what kind of club Billie thinks Canada needs to join, but I don't think I want to be a member.


  1. Well said, Doug. I call what he said "corporate arrogance". In an educated society, with a world wide web where information flows easily, its hard to believe that he tell the public this, like we wouldn't critically think about this. Makes it really hard to cheer for Lockheed Martin. Side note, it was great to see that elderly women beat Census Canada, because they used soft ware from LM......

  2. I think there's also a bit of corporate arrogance in this statement as well. The point he is trying to make is that during the Canadian involvement in Kosovo, coalition forces could not maintain their secure comms in order for CF-18's to "play" along side and communicate with US Forces.

    Sure we are there now but forces need to be operating 5th gen avionics in the future to prevent "dumbing" down and becoming vulnerable. Almost any new fighter could be at that level, not just the F35.

    Libya wasn't as critical and it wasn't as important for a mixed coalition force to be involved in the same airspace. So different levels of capability could be assigned appropriate targets.

    And don't take the "play" term to heart. It's just a word. No one is "playing". Notch down the sensitivity a little.

  3. Its a word with an assigned meaning (this is what language is) and play shouldn't be metaphorically be used in the place of war. Sound awful cavalier. In speaking of war we probably should be ramping UP the sensitivity a little.


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