February 4, 2013 By Neil Hamilton - Defence Watch Guest Writer
Not including our purchase of the F-18 Hornet, the approximate total expenditures in 2012 dollars that Canada has spent in purchasing the SAGE/Bomarc missile system, 200- F104 Star fighters, 66 F-101 Voodoos, 138 F-5 Freedom Fighters plus cancellation fees for the CF-105 Arrow as well as the Sparrow/Astra missile systems, is $11.1 Billion in 2012 dollars.
What did we get for 11.1 Billion Dollars? The answer is a second rate, third world Air Force. What did we loose? A workforce of 25,000 – 30,000 skilled engineers and technicians, as well as a world class aircraft industry that has taken us 40 years to recover. For the 11.1 billion in wasted 2012 dollars we could have saved our world class aircraft industry, a 1958 workforce of 25,000 – 30,000 and produced the most advanced fighting aircraft in the world. The debate continues.
Now, 40 years later our aircraft industry is again world class. So why not build our own? It’s time for the Canadian Government to bolster aeronautical experts from Bombardier Aerospace, Bristol Aerospace, Rolls-Royce Canada and numerous other Canadian aerospace companies to come up with a Canadian designed and built fighter replacement for the F-18 Hornet. There is time. If Sweden can do it, we can too.
As an alternative, we could build the proven Swedish the JAS39 Gripen under license for a costs of $60 million per plane vs. the unproven F-35, at projected of cost $138 million per plane. Saab has offered to allow Bombardier to build the Gripen jets, which would provide jobs and boost the Canadian economy. Not only are the initial procurement cost of the Gripen low, it is the least expensive modern fighter to operate at approximately $4,700 per flight hour vs. the F-35 cost of $21,000 per flight hour. (Kyle Meema article, Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 7, 2013)