Mark Collins - “2013: Time For US Strategy To Get Real” Mark Collins - The Fourth Man…and Mickey D’s
Dec 31

Strange to say this letter of mine sent to the paper was not printed:

Re: F-35 — a case study in deficient decision-making: Olive, Dec. 28 (online)

Mr Olive unfortunately has not done his research seriously (an all-too-common fault with our major media). He writes that “Had we selected wisely, we could have used the funds saved from purchasing more modest aircraft [than the F-35] adequate to our needs to replace our antiquated helicopters, and acquire our first troop-transport capability.”

In fact the current government has purchased 15 CH-47F Chinook medium-to-heavy lift helicopters; the first is scheduled for delivery in 2013. The Cyclone maritime helicopter program to replace our ancient Sea Kings has indeed been repeatedly delayed–but that, probably mistaken, contract was signed by the Liberal government in 2004. Mr Olive, for his part, seems completely unaware that eight of those aircraft are supposed to be delivered in 2013.

As for fixed-wing transports, Mr Olive could not be more wrong. The air force has had a troop-transport capability for decades. Moreover the current government, in its first term, bought four C-17 heavy jet transports–an aircraft capability Canada did not have–and 17 C-130J Hercules medium turboprops to replace the aging fleet of earlier-model Hercules. And all 21 new transports now are in service.

Mr Olive got not one fact right in the sentence quoted. Pity. By the way, both the transport contracts, and the Chinook one, were effectively sole-sourced. Sometimes that approach is the best. Especially when there are in reality no viable competitor aircraft–which, however, I would agree is not the case for the RCAF’s new fighter.

I have myself have hardly been soft on the planned F-35 acquisition, nor on the whole Cyclone program.

Mark Collins is a prolific Ottawa blogger

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