What’s Canada Buying? November 30, 2012
- F-35 Tug o’ War (1) The “this is the only jet we must buy” message unravelling? “The F-35 might not be the only plane that could meet Canada’s requirement for stealth as currently set out, according to Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson. Lawson told the national defence committee Thursday evening that the F-35 is not the only plane that meets the level of stealth set out in the statement of operational requirements (SOR). The terms of the SOR do not mean the F-35 is the only fighter aircraft Canada can to buy. “Is there only one airplane that can meet the standard of stealth that’s set out in the statement of requirements?” Liberal MP John McKay asked. “No,” Lawson said. And, he said, later, the stealth provision in the SOR is not hard and fast. “The necessary element of stealth is not written in. The requirement for some level of stealth is what’s written into the statement of requirements,” Lawson told reporters afterward ….”
- F-35 Tug o’ War (2) More glass-is-half-empty predictions? “Before the House of Commons breaks for Christmas, KPMG’s review of the price tag for the F-35 fighter jets will be tabled in Parliament, breathing new life into Opposition claims of ballooning costs and Conservative mismanagement. The report could sound the death knell for Canada’s involvement in the troubled project. In the wake of a critical audit last spring by the Auditor-General, the accountancy firm was asked to give full-life-cycle costs for the F-35 – the all-in price of purchasing and operating the jets until 2052, not just the 20-year estimate the Department of National Defence provided. The revised timeline will inevitably bloat the costs from the current $25-billion National Defence estimate ….”
- F-35 Tug o’ War (3) “Defence Minister Peter MacKay says the Harper government’s decision to pay accounting firm KPMG over $700,000 to review the figures surrounding the F-35 is “responsible.” The KPMG review of the stealth fighter jet’s cost was announced in September as costing $643,535, but is now pegged at $705,854.50, according to an order paper answer to an opposition member of Parliament. Liberal defence critic John McKay has publicly questioned why the government would be spending so much money to study something that Canadians have already paid to study twice in reports by the auditor general and the parliamentary budget officer. “I would suggest that that…the responsible thing to do, in response to suggestions that came from the auditor general and the parliamentary budget officer, was to undertake this very comprehensive review of this long-term program,” said Mr. MacKay in a phone interview with Embassy on Nov. 26 ….”
- F-35 Tug o’ War (4) Even former politicians are sometimes hard to pin down for answers, this time on Canadian industry benefits from the F-35 “After releasing Beyond the Horizon: Canada’s Interests and Future in Aerospace – a review mandated by the government to review the nation’s aerospace industry – review head, former cabinet minister David Emerson, talked to reporters about the future of industrial regional benefits [IRBs]. The report itself recommends that the government develop firmer and clearer industrial benefit commitments in the future when it signs aerospace contracts, and called the last two decades of IRBs “ad hoc.” Emerson was asked whether his report’s recommendation ought to apply to the F-35 program. “I will say that I do believe that if we do procurement in a way that requires bidders to come in with a proposition in terms of: Who are you going to partner with amongst Canadian companies or universities, what are you going to do in relation to this contract that is going to bring high quality technology capacity and employment to Canada that will enable our sectors to grow and become globally more competitive?” he answered, skirting the question. He was asked whether that would apply even generally, to the procurement of a new fighter jet, but Emerson declined to at first talk specifically about that program. A reporter pressed him, noting that the upcoming fighter jet procurement might cost taxpayers as much as $30 billion total, and would the recommendations not apply to everything going forward? “Absolutely, going forward,” Emerson began. That, the reporter interrupted, must mean the F-35, too. “Don’t put words in my mouth,” Emerson cautioned. “The F-35 was a partnership that is not yet a procurement, but once it is a procurement, our recommendations are clear. It would apply to any procurements going forward. There should be a very clear industrial and technology benefits package that goes with it.” ….”
- Wanted: someone to “Add additional features to a tool for responding to cyber incidents, in order to meet the needs of the Department of National Defence (DND) R&D in this area ….” – more from part of the bid package here.
- “A review of Canada’s aerospace industry warns that the industry is under threat from ambitious new players. And it’s calling on the federal government to spend more to develop space technology, but to take the money from other research programs. Former cabinet minister David Emerson, who led the wide-ranging review, says Canada should be proud of its status as a global aerospace power. But he says the government needs to redouble efforts to develop new technologies to remain competitive ….” – more here.
- “The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Member of Parliament for Lévis-Bellechasse, on behalf of the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Associate Minister of National Defence, Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie) and Member of Parliament for Madawaska-Restigouche, will make an important announcement (this afternoon) related to how the Government of Canada’s investments in our Canadian Armed Forces are supporting jobs in Quebec ….”