After weeks of pretty much ignoring Canada's current DND procurement woes, a party leader have unequivocally stated their position on Canada's controversial purchase of the F-35 Lightning II.
In a rally held in Halifax today, Liberal Party of Canada leader Justin Trudeau stated, quite bluntly, that the Grits "will not buy the F-35 fighter jet".
Instead, we will launch an open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18s; keeping in mind the primary mission of our fighter aircraft is the defense of North America. This process will also ensure that bids include guaranteed industrial benefits for Canadian companies and workers.Trudeau then emphasized that saving money on fighter jets would ensure that monies would not be taken away from shipbuilding in places like the Halifax shipyards.
While this news was a long time coming, it is not entirely unexpected. Kelowna Liberal candidate and former CF-18 pilot Stephen Fuhr has been quite critical of the F-35.
|I'm sure the "Tory blue" on the tail didn't help.|
There is a substantial difference in this case, however.
Unlike the EH101 at the time of its cancellation, Canada has yet to order a single F-35. Canada was an early investor in the program however, joining the Joint Strike Fighter Concept Demonstration phase back in 1997. It should be noted that this was 3 years prior to the X-35's first flight, and well before the "Battle of the X-Planes".
Canada's investment into the JSF program was not done under the auspices to "reserve" aircraft. Instead, the purpose was to buy into the industrial program. With anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 aircraft likely to be built, it is easy to see why Canada's government at the time would want a piece of that action.
With no secured orders for Canadian F-35s, Canada would incur no penalty. Lockheed Martin has stated quite clearly that Canada would lose out on future JSF work, but there is no guarantee Canada would receive any future JSF work in the first place.
Trudeau's speech insisted that any future Canadian fighter "guaranteed industrial benefits for Canadian companies and workers." This now puts Liberal policy in pretty much exact sync with my views on this blog: To replace the CF-18 with a fighter that meets the strategic, industrial, and economic needs of Canada.
See you at the polls.