Monday, December 12, 2011

F-35 JSF and the consequences of poseur governments

Uh oh. RCAF Air Marshall Lieutenant General Andre Deschamps makes warning noises about problems meeting operational requirements if the government buys less than 65 F-35s. Julian Fantino, the ex-copnow holding a job with the Harper Government (tm) related to defence is saying, well, final numbers 'are uncertain blah blah, and blah, but we're buying the F-35!' Hmm, one wonders if there's not just a little friction between the politicians and the generals?

And then, oh, what's this? Something about "Cracks of Doom" or "hotspots" in the air-frames? Production slowdowns?

You know, the armed forces of authoritarian states tend to be rotten apples, shiny exterior but rusting guts. Full of low-tech, outdated kit. Gaddafi's forces had lots of bullets, sure, but their air defence was useless when it found itself in a serious war. Saddam-era Iraq: all conscripts and obsolete tanks and planes. Sure you get examples of freshly painted trucks and polished boots that look good marching past the politicians' review stand, but that's where all the energy goes. There's footage of Iraqi troops pre-war looking really tough marching up and down the square. But that's all optics.  The Harper government is consolidating power, ignoring or weaseling around law and custom. True to form, they are foolishly gambling on big shiny pieces of military kit, and well, they might well end up with a grounded fighter fleet when the F-35 project officially fails and the CF-18s fatigue out of service.

There's something else too. These types of "leaders" don't really understand what it means to care for the troops (or anyone else!) they claim to love so much. They like their soldiers looking hard and polished, decked out in slick sounding acronyms and numbers. They don't do looking after the troops after they use them to attack Iran Afghanistan.

Right now the army is entering its post-conflict period. The density of combat veterans is very high. There are non-apparent combat wounds from PTSD to blast injuries to the brain which won't manifest right away. The budget cuts are coming down. Follow on support will be cut. There are homeless vets. These won't be acknowledged by this parade square government of Don Cherries. "Tough guys" don't need social workers or disability pensions.

The Conservative handling of the F-35 is just a symptom of what happens when fanatical politicians get their own armed forces to play with. There's very few political leaders with a martial uniform fetish who've ended up doing good things for their armed forces (First Sea Lord Churchill possibly excluded). Hitler and Mussolini saw their armies smashed and countries destroyed. Hussein of Iraq and Qaddafi of Libya ended up the same way. The Cons may not see Canada invaded, but their macho-minded poseur idiocy will see no good come to the Canadian Forces or the the country.


Edstock said...

Thanks to Stevie's majority, we're probably done like dinner: we will get the F-35. The nasty question is, how much is each one going to cost? $100 million? $150 million? More?

In case you missed it, this is Bill Sweetman's reply to a poster who asked, "If the F-35 is cancelled, what would the US get to replace it?":

Harry - There's no one-size-fits-all answer. The Navy would probably go to another Super Hornet block while figuring out whether to do UCAV. The USAF is already doing F-16 and F-15 updates, but the F-35A in some form is likely to survive.

The Marines? Consider that their CONOPS for sustained operations involves deploying to austere land bases. Does that have to be done from a boat? And they need about 3,000 feet, VL or not, for the Herks to do logistics. And just suppose there was a fighter out there that could fly off 3,000 feet...

So, IMHO, we should do the USN's Plan B: Super Hornets, then UCAV, starting with limited service of 1st. generation.

Mark, Ottawa said...

At the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute's "3Ds Blog"

"RCAF Chief Defends F-35 Acquisition"