Ottawa’s F-35 fighter jet deal was a U-turn 7 years in the making
The liberal government has Inked a deal to buy 88 F-35 fighter jets that’s a U-turn seven years in the making the new liberal government won’t buy the overpriced F-35 stealth fighter jet a stealth fighter that can’t defend our Arctic a stealth fighter that’s not actually stealth the F-35 is a modern reliable and agile fighter aircraft used.
By our closest allies in missions across the globe it is the most advanced fighter on the market and it is the right aircraft for our country the estimated 19 billion dollar deal will see the first four Jets delivered in 2026 the next six in 2027 and six more in 2028 the full Fleet of 88 Jets is scheduled to be in Canada by the end.
Of 2032. Brian May is parliamentary secretary to the minister of National Defense he is in Cambridge Ontario thank you for making time for our program today Mr May absolutely my pleasure thank you so much for having me on today now listen you know.
Those two clips we just played seven years ago the F-35 the Prime Minister the man who would go on to be prime minister said it’s the wrong jet for Canada today it’s the right one what happened well first of all I want to just explain as our world grows more complex it’s it’s critical that our aviators have the.
Most modern uh technologically advanced equipment available so they can protect Canadians and and what what’s changed to to address your actual question when we were elected we had not seen a a robust process a procurement process engaged in the F-35 that’s what we did we we stepped up and we said okay we’re gonna we’re gonna open up this process it was.
A seven step process it was open to to all Bettors wasn’t a single Source a process like the previous government had attempted uh and and and we we went through the the rigorous uh rigorous process to get to where we are today and I think it’s important to recognize uh the hundreds of men and women at both the Indian calf as well as procurement.
As well as I said that have helped us get us here today uh this is a much more mature aircraft than it than it was previously a lot of the issues let me ask you what does that mean like I’m sorry to interrupt sir but I think people want to well that’s okay it’s been it’s been years I mean really decades if you start looking back uh.
Over this conversation about f-35s in the meantime we currently have members of the military flying uh jets that we bought from Australia the date back to the 1980s so can you help us explain from your perspective why we’re what we’re getting now there’s more mature the term that the defense minister and yourself use what’s the benefit what’s.
The upside to Canada well the benefit is is simple we just if you do go back to the very beginning of this process Canada was one of the signatories uh a memorandum of understanding to to to to to to develop this this aircraft so we have been at the table from from the beginning and Canadians have benefited from that from.
An economic perspective as well um but we have to recognize that the the the aircraft that that we were discussing has changed it has evolved it has been improved at every single step uh and and we are confident that the the aircraft that we will be receiving uh in What’s called the 18th uh uh uh uh version of this if you will.
Um we’ll we’ll deal with the issues that we had previously so Mr may I appreciate your attention to the process I think everybody in Canada would be unanimous right you want to get this decision right but I want to understand is it the position of the liberal government that we really should not have bought the Jets until now we had to wait until this.
Most mature version because you know the world Dynamic has changed surely it would be nice to have some more up-to-date Jets at this moment to help us in that situation and I appreciate that I really do and I and I think it but it is critically important that we focus on uh that process and and it was a an intense.
Process to go through uh for procurement for I said for DND in calf to get to where we are and I think it’s important to recognize uh that work that was done we we are responsible for the public purse this is the largest single uh investment uh in the Canadian Air Force in over 30 years and we need to make sure we got this right and I think we.
Have we’ve got the the the best possible aircraft for our our aviators at the best possible price and that’s that’s important for your listeners and viewers to to recognize because we are we will receive this at the same prices even our colleagues in the United States I’d love to ask you actually about the price um because I think it’s something I’ll be.
Frank I’m still scratching my head a little bit about the government says the deal is worth 19 billion that was the same cost forecast a year ago anybody who’s I appreciate the fighter jets are not lettuce and butter but anybody who’s gone to the grocery store knows that inflation is nailing all sectors of the economy how is it that we are paying the.
Same amount that we were going to a year ago the the analysis I’ve seen has suggested that the price ought to have gone up in that time it’s even more complex than that to be honest this is not just for the fighter jets it’s important to understand that that 19 billion also includes all the infrastructure that we need to build we.
Have uh it includes a 20 different maintenance bays at both uh uh bagad Phil and cold lake so there’s there’s significant investments in infrastructure training not just for our aviators to be able to fly these new Jets but also to maintain them so the technicians that are required all of that is Incorporated in that 19 19.
Billion dollars why hasn’t the price gone up in a year I I to be honest uh that’s a that’s a great question um but I I am confident in in the the work that’s been done uh this is this is uh uh we’re looking at estimates right now of approximately 85 million dollars per fighter uh per fighter people are.
Doing the quick math on that and seeing that it doesn’t quite add up you have to incorporate all of those other costs as well and we should say uh to Canadians that in fact the estimates I’ve seen over the the lifespan of the planes we’re talking about 70 billion dollars so it’s quite a big number I just want to go back um to I guess the question.
That some of your critics uh and I’m being very specific when I say critics I think about the conservatives uh are pointing out today all the time that they took they point to the fact that for instance next year Canada is not slated to help um in the air policing over Romania something we’ve been doing for years and years because we say we’re.
Trying to ramp up the state of our cf-18s through this sort of interim period this question about all the time it is going to take to actually get these planes operational and the position it’s left Canada in in the interim how do you uh I guess how do you respond to that criticism by the conservatives in particular.
Well look if we had gone through this robust process when when we should have um then then then yes maybe we could be when uh would be well look when when we uh were first talking about this in 2010 uh in the Harper government uh they single sourced this but then they didn’t sign a contract and that’s that’s an interesting question that’s not the.
Conservatives don’t want to answer right and we ask I apologize for interrupting you but it has taken your government since 2015 to do this and you’re going to point back to the conservatives and say they should have moved faster we did not have a robust process like we like we initiated in 2017 that had not happened before and I will reckon you.
Have to also recognize that that we do have a upgrade process right now for the CFA cf-18 Hornets that will get us to where we need to be in 2032 and 2034 when we will decommission those those f-18s and and look I I I recognize uh you know we we don’t necessarily want to look back uh and I agree with you on that let’s let’s continue to look.
Forward but we we have a system in place right now to to upgrade those those uh f-18s so that we do have that operational capability uh as we transition to the f-35s uh and as I stated earlier why that’s going to take time okay well uh many a calendar to mark all the way from 2026 to 2032 we appreciate you taking the time to give.
Us your perspective on all of this thank you very much Brian May parliamentary my pleasure thank you so much to the minister of National Defense