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Nov 23

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…

Lots more on the SOR here. And from an earlier post:


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?

I’m sure others will have further questions. It still seems to be ouija board time. Meanwhile the last part of the post below is particularly relevant to what the politicians should be doing:

F-35, Canadian Politics–and Requirements/Missions

Mark Collins is a prolific Ottawa blogger

3 Responses to “Mark Collins: Canada and the F-35: Government Apparently Shifts Position Fairly Substantially”

  1. MarkOttawa Says:

    The March 23 Question Period version for your ouija board:

    ‘…she [minister Ambrose] said this — the new part: “In terms of the statement of requirements, I said yesterday that the secretariat will take a full options analysis. The statement of requirements will be set aside while that full options analysis is done.”..’
    http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/11/23/ambroses-new-new-new-f-35-talking-point-part-1/

    And it seems the gov’t will at least try to give the impression of a serious re-think:

    “Harper government seeking alternatives to troubled F-35 fighter jet: sources

    The Conservative government will signal it is serious about buying an alternative to the F-35 fighter jet by asking rival manufacturers about the cost and availability of their planes, according to defence industry sources.

    The formal request for information will be issued to rivals like Boeing, which produces the Superhornet, and the consortium that makes the Eurofighter Typhoon, asking them what jets are available, and at what cost, if the Canadian government decides to ditch the trouble-plagued F-35 purchase.

    The pricing and availability information request falls short of a formal tender but government sources said the “market analysis” will send a signal to voters and industry that it is taking seriously the Auditor-General’s spring report that was heavily critical of the F-35 procurement process…

    Sources suggest the new secretariat set up within Public Works to look at the F-35 purchase is not comfortable with the previous statement of requirement produced by National Defence, so it is carrying out its own due diligence on what the Royal Canadian Air Force is likely to need in the coming years…”
    http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/11/23/harper-government-seeking-alternatives-to-troubled-f-35-fighter-jet-sources/

    More:

    ‘Canada to talk to allies, competitors in options to replace CF-18s, sources

    The agency overseeing the replacement of the country’s CF-18s [the fighter secretariat noted in the post] intends to talk to the U.S., Australia and Britain as it conducts a full-fledged options analysis into the future of Canada’s fast fighter fleet, say defence sources.

    That review, which will also include consultation with competitors to the oft-maligned F-35 stealth fighter, will get underway soon and could last several months…

    The process usually happens in reverse. The military defines what it needs and then, in conjunction with public works, conducts an analysis of what is out there and how the capability can be filled [see my questions in the post]…

    Defence sources said National Defence will have input into the new, expanded options analysis [one would really hope so], but “it will not be driving the bus.”..’
    http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/11/23/canada-to-talk-to-allies-about-options-to-replace-cf-18s/

    Are “defence industry sources” different in any serious way from “defence sources”? “Twould be nice to have more, er, specificity.

    Mark Collins

  2. MarkOttawa Says:

    The bigger picture:

    “Will Stealth Survive As Sensors Improve? F-35, Jammers At Stake”
    http://defense.aol.com/2012/11/27/will-stealth-survive-as-sensors-improve-f-35-jammers-at-stake/

    Remember also that major powers France (Rafale) and Germany (Typhoon) will not have stealth fighters. And that the Typhoon will remain the main RAF fighter, ditto for Spain (no stealth plans known).

    Mark Collins

  3. MarkOttawa Says:

    E.R. Campbell has a WAG at Milnet.ca:

    “A guess - an unsupportd even by rumours wild arsed guess: the (reported (on CBC radio)) changes in the FWSAR SOR to include a possible multiple platform solution [see below], presages a similar change in the next generation fighter/bomber SOR.

    My second (equally unsupportd) guess is that Minister Ambrose has the PM’s ear on this whole defence procurement issue…”
    http://forums.milnet.ca/forums/index.php/topic,22809.msg1191528.html#msg1191528

    My own WAG (without the “r”, another “s” on FWSAR:

    “Fixed-Wing SAR: A Tale of Two Tails?”
    http://www.cdfai.org/the3dsblog/?p=1512

    Mark Collins

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