Furthermore, he and his band of hillbillies are lying about the ramifications of withdrawing from the future purchase of the F-35 Lightning II. We haven't signed a contract yet and we won't until 2013.
Harper's yapping coincides, coincidentally, with a pressurized sales push by Lockheed Martin's F-35 programme general manager, Tom Burbage.
Industrial participation by international partners in the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme could be affected if firm commitments to buy the aircraft are delayed or amended, Tom Burbage, the general manager and executive vice president for the F-35 programme, warned on 17 August.Canada entered into the development stage without any commitment to buy and Burbage knows it. This is arm twisting on the part of LM.
Burbage told Jane's that the eight international partner nations - Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and the UK - were "still soft on production schedules".Soft? The Netherlands and Denmark actually cancelled their plans at one point and only re-instituted them after... pressure from Lockheed Martin.
The countries mentioned by Burbage are facing hobbled economies and soaring deficits. Harper has been right in amongst those other countrys' leaders expounding the virtues of curbing those deficits and getting "their" house in order.
And they intend to. Britain, which is building two larger aircraft carriers is now looking at slowing or entirely eliminating one of them. Along with the reduction in seaborne deck space comes an obvious reduction in the need for aircraft. Word is hemorrhaging out of Whitehall that the Brits will cancel the F-35B STOVL which they helped develop and go with a cheaper standard carrier launch version instead. That will drive the cost of the F-35B upward - for the American buyers - the US Marine Corps.
Burbage and Lockheed Martin will be panicking. The "soft" countries still have a way to go before they finalize any agreement to purchase. Most are still questioning their future needs and have not gone beyond the development agreement. Announcements, like Canada's, have indicated a preference and the waving around of some money. What Burbage would like is a solid deal, something he's not likely to get until the final price tag can be nailed down. So he pops this out:
"There is a sort of a gentleman's agreement in this game that ties industrial participation to buying airplanes," said Burbage.Sounds familiarly like what Harper is attempting to shovel onto the field. It's also bullshit. Lockheed Martin called for international industrial participation without commitments to buy. Gentleman's agreements don't work in multi-billion dollar programmes. If they had required commitments from participants it should have been spelled out in print.
"Industrial participation is all going on today in advance of anyone making a formal decision to buy an airplane."
"If, at some point in time, somebody says we are not going to buy any airplanes, that puts us in a pretty difficult situation, so there is a trust factor, sort of a partnership factor, that goes along with being part of the programme," he said.
This is where Harper is finding himself in a bind. Commitment from all partners is starting to waver. The Dutch have ordered a total of two aircraft for testing and the British, three. Along with everyone else they are looking at ways to trim their fiscal deficits and big defence equipment purchases are high on the list of things to cut-back. Saab still has a sales push going on with both The Netherlands and Denmark to sell them Grippens over the F-35 - and the Dutch and Danes have not told them to go away.
Harper's yapping has as much to do with trying to keep the F-35 development partners on a buying spree as it does trying to sell Canadians on an aircraft they have not had a chance to evaluate or debate. He can prattle on all he wants that "allies would be angry" if Canada put a hold on the F-35 purchase. In fact, they might be relieved at such a move. If Canada withdrew it would drive the price per unit so high that the Europeans would also withdraw and go shopping elsewhere - closer to home.
Harper is scrambling to keep the European commitment to the F-35 strong. If those partners pull out, (and there is every indication that at least one of them will), the price of the F-35 is going to go up. Way up. For everybody, including the Americans.
Do you get it now?
A great post on the lies being peddled by Harper and crowd is over at Impolitical. Must read.