Posts Tagged F-35

F-35 could be undoing of Canadian Conservatives

Canada’s recent foray into Libya demonstrates Harper government’s willingness to use violence to deal with international situations, even in contexts that have little relevance to Canada. In light of this it is unsurprising that Canada has been so loyal to the floundering F-35 jet project. The F-35 has little value in defending Canadian territory from incursions, but is a glitzy way for Canada’s neoconservative government to keep up with the Joneses (or the Bushes).

Geoffrey Stevens has written a short critique of Canada’s F-35 purchase in Straight Goods.

The F-35 could be a disaster for the Conservatives. If the F-35 turns out to be a successful project and a ‘useful’ war machine, the Conservatives will have to have stayed with the project to gain any political benefits from it. If they pull the plug too early they risk missing out on a good thing and losing the confidence of their hard core right wing supporters.

More likely however the project is either going to collapse, or to underperform. In this case the Conservatives lose both ways. If it collapses they will be criticised for staying loyal to a project with such a low liklihood of success, and wasting so much money on its development. If it goes ahead, they will be stuck with a project that is not fit for the purpose it was sold to the Canadian public with, and which will cost billions more to make suitable. Billions of dollars will have been diverted from more useful projects.

Even if the Conservatives stick with the F-35 project and the project goes ahead, they will need to continue to convince Canadians that Canada’s role in the world is to  help the US and the UK enforce regime change in various parts of the world.

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Canada’s new F-35s may not be very useful in the Arctic

The Canadian Press has reported that Canada’s new F-35 jets will be delivered without the ability to communicate from Canada’s arctic.

Defense officials are scrambling to figure out how they can add the cabability to the new fighters, which are less capable than the F-18s they will be replacing.

Without advanced technology for communication, the F-35s will be severely hampered in their ability to patrol and defend Canada’s arctic sovereignty, which was one of the major points that this project was sold on.

Does this mean that the Harper government missed the boat when it came to purchasing the plane, or was the arctic patrol mission simply a ruse to sell the new fighters to a skeptical public. Certainly the government has been more interested in fighting overseas military interventions than the boring  job of patrolling the arctic.

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Pentagon to Have Veto Over Use of Canadian Fighters?

It appears that the Pentagon will retain control over flight codes and key software that controls the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that Canada is in the process of purchasing.

In theory, this would make it possible for outside forces in the US military to navigate Canada’s F-35s, stop them from flying, control their targeting systems and probably many other functions.

Thus, a large portion of our sovereignty over these jets would be compromised. Canada would not be able to count on its ability to use these jets in any situation disapproved of by the US. Canada would be unable to participate in any multilateral strike force in which the US disapproved.

In the Falklands War, the US considered alllying itself with the Argentinian junta. Though it is inconceivable that it would have gone to war with the UK it is very possible that it might have interfered with the UK force tasked with liberating the Falklands. If this situation was happening in the present, and Canada was helping our ally the UK, it is possible that both countries would lose their ability to use their own Joint Strike Fighters.

While it is difficult at present to conjure a situation in which Canada would be defying US policy in its use of jet fighters, over the long lifespan of these jets there may be situations that we cannot even imagine now.

Given the current turmoil in the US government, it isn’t completely possible to predict US behaviour in the future, and we have only to remember the recent US war on Iraq to realise that there are many parties in the US government that can operate almost independently of the US government and are difficult to manage coherently. Our ability to manage our own sovereignty may rely on the machinations of the increasingly irrational American political machinery.

Perhaps the only thing worse than having overpriced weapons you don’t need is having them actually under the control of someone else.

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F-35 Crisis As Turkey Wants Codes

Turkey may back out of the F-35 project because it is being assessed a share of the rising costs, and because it is becoming clear that the US Pentagon will not be sharing ‘flight codes’ and critical software relating to the jets. This leads to the possibility that someone could block the use of the jets, outside of Turkey’s control.

According to, Turkey plans to buy about 100 of the jets. But without source codes and control of the software it would be possible for outside sources to control the jets. According to Turkish sources, Turkey is worried that the US, or one of its key allies like Israel, might be able to block use of Turkey’s own jets if there was disagreement about a mission that Turkey might have. The US would have the power over what planes are designated as enemies, and thus the US would have the power to shut down the plane if Turkey had a third party conflict with a country that was a friend of the US.

The source claims that the UK is considering withdrawing from the project for the same reason.

Total cost of the project to Turkey is said to be $16 Billion.

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Canada’s F-35 Purchase: Update

Two excellent articles, published on by David Publiese relating to the background of the F-35 purchase announcement by the Canadian government. One more to come.

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F-35 Fossil Fuel Guzzlers Will Never Fly

Robertjb, in, writes that the F-35 may never fly.

That’s because the US has realised, (or at least the pragmatic elements of the military has), that the US military much completely transform to using non petroleum fuels by 2040. That would dramatically shorten the shelf life of the F-35, making the F-35 progamme ill advised.

For some additional discussion of the effect of oil shortages on the military, see (Source) (Source) (Source)

From an unoffical source, the F-35 carries about 12 tonnes of fuel. Or according to Wikipedia 8.4 tonnes.

Defence Today notes that a “single sortie unrefuelled for an F/A-18, F-111 or F-35 typically requires a cruise fuel burn of around 6,000 to 7,000 lb/hr. Or about 2.7 tonnes to 3.2 tonnes/hour.

Clearly F-35’s need very frequent mid air refueling, which means that the consumption of the refueling airplane needs to be added to it. Or they must fly very short sorties.

As oil becomes in short supply, and prices rise, it will become increasingly difficult to finance an F-35 fleet.

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US To Give 20 F-35’s to Israel

The US appears to have been maneuvered to give 20 F-35 jets to Israel at no cost.

Israel recently unilaterally ended its freeze on building illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. There was relatively little diplomatic cost to Israel, as no country with any influence over Israel has been prepared to implement sanctions. This put Israel into a win win position, where it could either win extended settlements throughout the West Bank, or bargain for a new settlement freeze.

The US, perhaps in a pre-agreed deal, fell into place, offering Israel 20 free F-35 fighter jets if would reimplement a 3 month settlement freeze. This must be the bargain of the century, a free lunch that cost Israel essentially nothing. The US did not even ask Israel to stop its contentious settlement programme in East Jerusalem.

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Israeli arms companies benefit at expense of American taxpayers

Israeli companies appear to have gotten guarantees billions of dollars in contracts in the building and maintenance of  the F-35 jets that Canada is set to acquire in a no bid contract with Lockheed Martin.

They got these guarantees by agreeing to purchase 20 of the fighters, outdistancing companies from countries like Canada that had agreed earlier to purchase the fighters.

Canada meanwhile appears got fewer guarantees of significant contracts and jobs, despite agreeing to purchase billions of dollars of jets.

‘Globes’ an Israeli online business news agency reported that Israel had might get contracts worth 180% of the value of its intended purchases while Canada, which invested$650 million up front in developing the jet, and ordered nine billion dollars worth of the jets, got contracts totalling only 75% of the value of the orders.

Furthermore, the cost of the Israeli purchases will be borne by the US taxpayer, while the contracts will go to private Israeli companies with close links to the government, like IAI, and Elbit Systems.

Indeed, Elbit is slated to get contracts totalling $2 billion, the biggest winner.

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