First, an article in Macleans by Alec Castonguay, where he interviews and quotes RCAF Maj.-Gen. Yvan Blondin about the plane, makes for some interesting reading. Here's Major-General Blondin as quoted describing the rationale behind the F-35:
The first air strikes in Libya were carried out by American B-2 stealth bombers and Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from ships in the Mediterranean. “With the F-35, we could have been active from day one attacking their radar,” says Blondin. “It’s the difference between playing a front-line role and a secondary one.”...Maj.-Gen. Yvan Blondin doesn’t hide the fact that the wishes of the pilots, who enjoy a special status within the Canadian Forces—on missions they sleep in hotels instead of in tents—weighed heavily in the decision to recommend the Lockheed Martin jet. If some talk about the “arrogance of pilots,” Blondin prefers to talk about the “pride” of a “wolf pack” within which competition is fierce. “The experts, the guys who sit in the cockpit, are the pilots,” he says. “They talk to pilots from other countries. They know the F-35 will be good. The politicians listened to us and we appreciate it.”
Next up, a month later we have the Chief of Defence Staff, General Walter Natynczyk, explaining much the same.
“The Joint Strike Fighter is the most capable aircraft out there,” said Chief of Defence Staff, General Walter Natynczyk. “It represents the best value for Canada’s Air Force. More importantly, when I was in Bagotville talking to the seven pilots who just flew home, les Alouettes de Escadron 425, and I grabbed these seven pilots together and I said, 'Okay, what airplane do you want?' That’s the aircraft that they want." General Natynczyk also said he is so thrilled that "an extraordinary combat veteran pilot" like Major Jean-Paul 'Jeep' Peart is in the project management office of this aircraft.
Major Jean-Paul 'Jeep' Peart is one of the Canadian fighter pilot[sic] who flew the F-35 simulator to conduct system familiarization, evaluation and tactics development.
Let's hope these quotes are just part of a Con-spired propaganda exercise, but let's unpack things a little anyway. According to MGen Blondin the F-35 is for Canada because RCAF fighter pilots want to be able to join the US in the first wave of air attacks against whatever spot in the world our southern neighbour next sees fit to bomb. The pilots know the F-35 will buy them their ticket to that show because some of them have flown Lockheed Martin's simulator and well it was awesome and also some other pilots said so. I would think the simulator version is very likely programmed as the idealised type without all the ongoing bugs and glitches of the real thing. As for talking to other pilots, none of them could have belonged to an air force that flies the thing and therefore speak from serious experience on type. These quotes suggest uniformed proponents of the F-35, fighter pilots, are essentially asking the Canadian taxpayer to spend at least $25 billion on a paper airplane to support their egos.
|Warning: Not a real fighter pilot. |
Not for training purposes.
If there is any real truth to this, people like MGen Blondin need to be sacked and replaced. Ultimately, these are people charged with the nation's defence and expected to die, if need be, in that service. Every other mission ought to be secondary to that. Indeed, this document, which is the closest thing we have to a White Paper, spells it out. International missions are third on the list of priorities for the Canadian Forces after Canada and North America.
Perhaps I am a little old fashioned in my outlook, but I'd want my Air Force to baseline its approach to the job at something like how the RAF did in the summer of 1940. Anything beyond that, such as large-package coalition air campaigns on other continents and first-strike options therein, are luxuries of politics and time and secondary to the first purpose of the Air Force. Betting the family farm on a single problematic aircraft when other proven options are available because it looks cool is grossly negligent. I'll try not to draw comparisons to some 'defence analysts.'
I would hate to think that this whole boondoggle came to down an uncritical question about what the 'pilots wanted' without a very careful look at why they wanted it.
|Warning: Pushes people under buses.|
Also not a fighter pilot.