In the Commons’ Question Period November 22 Minister of Public Works and Government Services Rona Ambrose– who now answers all questions on the CF-18 replacement for the government–said something new and potentially significant that, as far as I can see, only Colin Horgan of iPOLITICS.ca picked up amongst our ace media:
In the aftermath of the public accounts committee tabling its report [text here, actually a bit more critical of DND/CF than one might have expected from the Conservative majority] on the auditor general’s spring assessment of the F-35 procurement, the New Democrats devoted three questions to the topic in question period Thursday [Nov. 22]. And, as they did earlier this week, Public Works minister Rona Ambrose’s talking points [the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat is under her department] changed…
“Could the minister assure us that the requirements to replace the CF-18 have been changed?” [NDP MP Matthew] Kellway asked.
“As I said previously,” Ambrose began (she’d given a similar answer a moment earlier to Kellway’s caucus colleague, Christine Moore) “the options analysis is a full evaluation of choices, not simply a refresh of the work that was done before.”
Then came the new bit.
“That review of options will not be constrained by the previous statement of requirements [emphasis added],” Ambrose said…
The RCAF’s “Mandatory Capabilities / Requirements” (the head of the webpage still reads “F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Next Generation Fighter Capability”) make it clear only the F-35 will do:
An analysis led to the determination that one of the System Effectiveness requirements and four of the sub-system requirements could only be satisfied by a fifth generation aircraft. A general description of these is as follows;
- The possession of stealth capabilities that make detection by enemy sensor systems exceedingly difficult…
Then see the two slides for the Chief of the Air Staff at pp. 23 and 24 from a March 2010 presentation. The one at p. 23 concludes: “F-35–The only option that met all CF Mandatory Requirements”. The slide also refers to the “Statement of Operational Requirements”–but those were only completed in June that year, see Maclean’s piece below…
Now if the new fighter’s selection is not to be “constrained” by the SOR–which allowed only for the F-35–a number of serious questions arise. Such as:
If the old SOR are not in effect what are the new criteria against which the aircraft will be chosen? Who defines those criteria? Presumably the air force but who knows? The “options analysis” the minister refers to looks like it is being done by the RCAF but what precisely is it?
What will be the process to make a selection? A competition? Who will run it? Who will be invited to compete?
Mark Collins is a prolific Ottawa blogger
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