by Eric Pettifor
When buying an SLR camera, the price of the unit is not the entire cost. Will you need additional lenses? Tripod? Camera case/bag? Filters? Additional media? Apparently it’s the same thing when buying fighter jets.
You can’t just buy 65 F-35 fighter jets and think that’s the end of it, especially if your excuse is to defend the arctic from the Russians and the runways up north are all too short for the F-35. You’ve got to also budget for either extending those runways, or customizing the jets with drag parachutes.
Then there’s the issue of being able to fuel the jets in mid-air. You have to budget for tanker planes, or else adaptation of existing planes to serve that function, as was recently done in order to refuel the current F-18 jet fighters.
The Liberals have vowed to scrap the deal based purely on the originally estimated price of nine billion, though a recent article in the Ottawa Citizen cites the figure as currently between 16 and 21 billion dollars.
Personally, I’d like to see the Canadian Armed Forces equipped with the latest and best kit to fulfil their missions, but, as with a camera purchase, you have to total the cost of everything, all the extras and bits and pieces. If the figure is more than you can afford, then you either don’t make the purchase, or you figure out where cuts can be made.
Could we defend the arctic against the Russians with 30 F-35s? The Americans are purchasing 2,443 of them, so maybe they could loan us some in the event those evil Russians finally come over the pole as they’ve threatened throughout this long Cold War. (Wait a sec, didn’t the Cold War end some time ago?)
Or perhaps we could think more in terms of land-based defence, say polar bear operated laser installations. Yes, that would be expensive, but you can get a lot for one billion dollars, never mind 21 billion. Plus I prefer a sci-fi element over the old Cold War movie the Conservatives are still playing. If Ignatieff has his way and we suddenly find ourselves fighting off a Klingon invasion with antiquated F-18s and no polar bear operated laser cannons, it will be too late for regrets.