With Justin Trudeau vowing to scrap the F-35 fighter jet program, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says he doesn’t know what planet the Liberals are living on.
“The Liberal Party is living in a dream world if they think we could pull out of the development project for the F-35 and not lose business.”
Harper says pulling out now would not only mean abandoning the fight against ISIS, but also Canada’s aerospace industry.
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Damage to aerospace industry
Alan Williams was responsible for defence procurement in Canada for years, and before that, for all government contracts in public works.
Williams thinks the best thing for Canada’s aerospace industry is to actually open up competition.
“More jobs, more benefits will accrue to Canada and Canadian companies through a competition, than through the joint strike fighter.”
He says that’s because, if Canada just bought the F-35 program we are in, it would limit industry to that particular contract.
“Now, they’ve done a great job and the best estimates are the industry might get $10 to 12-billion in contracts, at best. That’s great, but if you run a competition any of the bidders know that in order to be declared successful, you have to commit to industrial benefits equal to the value of the contract, which will likely be two to three times that value.”
And as there is no actual signed contract for the fighter jets, pulling out would not result in any penalties for Canada.
Impact on mission against ISIS
Williams also says it doesn’t make sense to argue Canada needs the F-35 to fight ISIS.
“We have throughout history, conducted many many theatre operations using jets other than the F-35, we’ve collaborated with our allies in joint ventures, each of us using different jets, we know how to do that. We can continue to do that. So, to suggest that we might need this jet to beat down ISIL doesn’t make any sense.”
Problems with Trudeau’s plan
But it’s not just the comments from Harper that Williams is questioning.
He says if Trudeau really wants an open bid, he should keep the F-35 in it.
“If you’re going to run an open and fair and transparent competition, you can’t predict the outcome. That means you can’t predict who’s going to lose, like you can’t predict who’s going to win.”
LISTEN: Alan Williams discusses the issues surrounding F-35 political claims:
The plan to purchase F-35 fighter jets has been controversial from the get go.
In fact, the entire process was put on hold, after a scathing report from the Auditor General found the military had not done its due diligence in planning for the jets, and would likely be billions of dollars over budget.
The latest estimate put the cost of the jets at $44-billion.