Friday, November 21, 2008

65 f-35

With a bit of a thud, I'd say, if one reads closely. This is what the Nov. 19 Speech from the Throne says about defence (Afstan aside--one para for that too):
Our Government will also continue to rebuild and arm the Canadian Forces with the best possible equipment. We will renew all of our major air, sea and surface fleets over the next two decades, creating new, high-technology jobs in Canada in the process.
That's by 2028, people! A pledge moreover that this government is in no position to keep. It looks to me as if budget problems will be hitting the CF fairly soon, and pretty hard.

Any bets on which of the major equipments listed below will, during those two decades, fall to the end of the line, are pushed back from the currently envisaged in-service date, or are have their specifications seriously modified to be less expensive (and less capable)? Or are dropped completely?

*Joint Support Ships (contracting process now halted; first ship was originally to be delivered in 2012)

*Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (no contracting process yet underway, no in-service date)

*Destroyer/frigate replacement (formerly called Single Class Surface Combatant, now "Destroyer Replacement Project"; our three destroyers will start coming out of service over the coming years, the frigates are being modernized, notional in-service date for destroyer replacement is 2017, for frigate replacement is 2024)

*Submarine replacement (will it even happen?)

*Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel replacement (will they be replaced? Arctic Offshore vessels seem likely to take on much of their role)

*CH-47Fs (still no contract signed)

*JUSTAS high-altitude medium endurance UAVs (first delivery planned for 2012)

*Fixed-wing Search and Rescue aircraft replacement (2015 possible in-service date)

*CF-18 replacement (only 65 will be acquired while we know have 80 Hornets; expected around 2017) (Meanwhile, Norway has already decided to buy 48 F-35s.)

*CP-140 Aurora replacement (our maritime partrol aircraft are to be flying until 2020)

*Update thought: Griffon helicopter replacement (acquired 1995-97)

*Armoured vehicles (government approval wanted quickly)

*Leopard 2 replacement (if ever)

I do believe that some future government will be forced to conclude that procuring all the types of equipment above for the three services is simply unaffordable, and that a serious review of the services' missions must be undertaken to determine which capablities can be eliminated or reduced. Unless the services are to, er, soldier on with clapped-out, increasingly ineffective, equipment.

In other words, some government must decide what operational capabilities of the CF are vital to the national interest and therefore must be funded. And which capabilities are not essential. Otherwise Canada will end up with three services, each of which is trying to be as close as it can be to all-singing and all-dancing (the "multi-purpose, combat-capable forces" mantra--boy is a new White Paper needed). But those services will in fact end up increasingly off-tune and out of step. Because the money will not be there to let the show go on.

Let us all gather together for further reading of the tea leaves in the finance minister's Nov. 27 economic statement.

The Speech from the Throne also said this about defence procurement:
Fixing procurement will be a top priority. Simpler and streamlined processes will make it easier for businesses to provide products and services to the government and will deliver better results for Canadians. Military procurement in particular is critical: Canada cannot afford to have cumbersome processes delay the purchase and delivery of equipment needed by our men and women in uniform.
It would have been nice to hear a few specifics--especially as to how speedier procurement will be reconciled with the time it takes deciding how to spread out the pork, aka industrial and regional benefits (the main reason, I think, the C-130J contract took a year and a half to sign).


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