More valuable than gold right now.  

Canada has just received a harsh lesson on self-sufficiency.

As the Coronavirus pandemic ravages the globe, it has brought to the fore shining examples of both the best and the worst of what humanity has to offer.

We see acts of kindness, like people helping seniors collect their groceries or buying coffee for healthcare workers.  We see a moonshot effort to find treatments with finding a cure as the top priority.  Everyone seems to be doing whatever they can to pitch in, whether it be sewing masks at home or simply providing entertainment for a much needed distraction during these anxious times.

Unfortunately, we also see acts of selfishness and ignorance.  Hoarding toilet paper has become a meme for being a prime example of both.  There are heartless landlords demanding rent from suddenly unemployed tenants.  We see "snake oil salesmen" peddling fake cures.  We have seen racist assaults and other disgusting acts.  

The Coronavirus pandemic has also clearly illustrated the divide between the rich and poor.  Attention-starved celebrities weep about being isolated in their mansions...  While the homeless are forced to sleep in parking lots surrounded by empty rooms.  Prisons have become COVID-19 epicenters.  Perhaps the most glaring example of this divide came from media mogul David Geffen posting a picture of his yacht "isolating" in the Caribbean.

Must be rough...
The story is different for front-line healthcare workers.

As I have mentioned previously, the Coronavirus pandemic is nothing less than a World War when viewed from a healthcare perspective.  It is a war fought with doctors, nurses, ventilators, and ambulances instead of generals, soldiers, rifles, and tanks.  It also requires ammunition to help fight back against an enemy.  In this case that ammunition is personal protective equipment (PPE).  Without PPE, healthcare workers would quickly succumb to same infections plaguing their patients...  leaving no one left to fight.

Imagine, if you will, a shipment of much needed ammunition destined for Canadian forces engaged in battle against an enemy.  Now imagine a supposed "ally" confiscating that ammunition unilaterally stating that they had a greater need.  Such an act would both threaten lives and alliances at a time when a united front is needed.

That is exactly what happened.

Facepalms: More dangerous than ever.  
Earlier this week, the Trump administration prevented the delivery of three million N95 respirator masks to Canada.  This was undoubtedly a desperate move to help mitigate the months of downplaying the threat and hobbling the CDC.

Needless to say, these invaluable pieces of PPE are needed by medical personnel everywhere.  The sudden arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic has led to severe shortages, requiring some agencies to improvise...  Some better than others.  It has also led to the need to "rotate" needed stock to the areas where it is needed most in the hopes that those area will return the favor.

Instead of coordinated effort, the USA's efforts obtain and distribute much needed PPE and ventilators has turned into a dystopian anarchy.  Federal officials are seizing equipment before they reach hospitals.  States are forced into a bidding war as unscrupulous distributors jack up the price.  Ventilators that were stockpiled in case of emergency are useless thanks to lack of maintenance.

The Trump administration's inept preparation and leadership has led to public reaction that has been horribly inconsistent, ineffective, and damn right incomprehensible.  There is no wonder America has quickly surpassed the rest of the world in COVID-19 cases.

Simply put, the USA is losing the war against the Coronavirus.  In its thrashing attempts to make up for its own poor strategy, it has disrupted logistical chains; putting others as risk.

In response, Canada has been forced to fend for itself.  Thankfully, Canada's manufacturing sector has been quick to respond.

A B.C. factory that once made pillows and dog beds will become the first Canadian manufacturer of N95 masks.  Underwear maker Stanfield's is pivoting to making surgical gowns.  People are even coming up with crude ventilators that can be produced quickly and cheaply.

World War C, like any other war, will be won on logistics.  We need to have the proper resources.  We need it to work.  We need to get those resources where they are needed, when they are needed.

Which lets me segue into fighter jets.

Super Hornets and F-35s
Two of the fighters on offer to Canada hail from the U.S. of A.  I would not suggest that Trump's latest actions be enough to disqualify them both.  It should make us seriously question one particular aspect of the fighters on offer, however.

If the going gets tough, are we going to be able to fix and repair these things ourselves?  Or will be at the mercy of the US Government?

Boeing seems rather non-committal with its offer for the Super Hornet.  Its recent bid to Brazil was not overburdened by the promise of source-code transfer or easy customization.

Lockheed Martin's F-35 is a different animal completely.  It uses proprietary software for logistics.  Its source code is completely locked down and nobody, not even America's closest allies, have the ability to alter it.   The JSF in strictly an American plane...  Other nations may fly it, but only on American terms.

This poses a scary question:  What if, during a time of crisis, America deems its needs for JSF-related resources to be greater than another partner nation?  Given the recent brouhaha over PPE, one could imagine a scenario in which the USA prioritized its own supply chain at the cost of others.  Without access to the source code or logistic software, other F-35 operators could be left in the cold.

The COVID-19 crisis has blatantly illustrated the need for Canada to be more self-sufficient.  While outsourcing may indeed prove more cost efficient, it can prove disastrous when fragile supply lines collapse like a house of cards.

Gripen E
Of the three fighters currently on offer for the FFCP, only the Saab Gripen offer include full technology transfer and a "Made in Canada" solution.  Canada will not only be building its own fighter jets, but have the ability to make changes to the flight software, incorporate new weapons, and manufacture our own spare parts.

As recent events have proven, putting ourselves at the mercy of fragile supply lines can yield terrorizing results.  Sometimes, you just have to do things yourself.


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