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F-This. Canadian Forces/DND Whistlestop Tour Promotes 9 Billion Dollar Aircraft Purchase.

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
This plane cost me 75 cents, and is far less harmful.
This plane cost me 75 cents, and is far less harmful.


As part of its promo tour meant to hype the Canadian government’s recent decision to purchase sixty-five F35 Advanced Stealth aircraft, Canadian Forces/Department of National Defense today rolled its four-member panel into Dalhousie University, Halifax. The sixty-five F35s are going to cost Canadian taxpayers a cool 9 billion dollars.  No mention was made of the dollar amount of insurance the DND needed to purchase from Dalhousie in order to hold this little shindig on university grounds, but perhaps that's for another story.

There was pizza. There were coffee and cookies. There was a Power Point presentation with sexy slides showing how many fewer imaginary F35s it would take to destroy hypothetical 'high value targets' than it would take our current fleet of aging F18s, and how many fewer pilots would need to die to properly destroy 'The Enemy’. Canada's equivalent to Maverick Mitchell and Goose Bradshaw (Top Gun reference) were there, dressed in their military best, gushing with admiration for how well the F35 had handled in simulator scenarios.

Perhaps the thinking was that I'd be so impressed with their Power Point presentation, and their affirmations that the plane was really cool, that I'd run out into the streets, heart aflutter, heaping praise on this killing machine and their wise investment in the future of warfare. Perhaps they were hoping that the groundswell of excitement amongst the Canadian populace would reach a fevered pitch until we’re all just begging for a sneak peek of this stealthy fighter at the next town fair/air show.

Sorry boys. We're not nine anymore.

The F35 is what is known as a 'fifth-generation' fighter plane. The main selling point of fifth-generation fighter planes (a term coined by the American military) is that they have all kinds of new bells and whistles on them which allow them to easily destroy all fourth-generation fighter planes. They also destroy other things, and sneak up on things in order to decide whether to destroy them or not, much better than fourth-generation fighter craft do. 

Currently, there is only one 'fifth-generation' fighter plane, the F22. The F35 is a smaller, cheaper, version of the F22. But it’s not ready yet. (More on that in a moment.) Even if you wanted an F22, which Stephen Harper does, the Americans won't sell anybody the F22. 

I can think of two reasons why. First, it would make sense that the Americans are keeping the most effective war machine in the sky all to themselves. Your friend one day is your enemy the next, so keep the invisible planes for yourself.

It also appears, however, that the F22s are simply too expensive for even America's insatiable taste in killing machines. In 2009, the American Senate voted to stop production at 187 planes. These planes are good for fighting major wars, and little else. Once you've got 187 of them, and nobody else has even one, well, you start to think a little harder about buying that 188th one. Russia can’t afford to make a similar plane. Neither can China.

Second, if you just tell everybody how amazing your airplane is, but don't let anyone else play with it, maybe nobody will realize just how crappy it actually is. In high school I bought a 1983 Audi GT Coupe. It wasn't new. It was painted gold and had Porsche rims. It was a gutless wonder, but so long as I didn't let anyone else drive it, nobody was really the wiser.

The F22 is the most accident-prone fighter jet in the American air force. The American Air Force claims that it requires 30 repair hours for every hour of operation, which prices out to costing $44,000 per hour that the F22 is in the air. The Pentagon asks that its planes meet a standard of 12 repair hours for every hour of operation. Lemonade at billions per glass, anyone?

But this one's better. Trust us!

Lockheed Martin makes airplanes that kill you dead. They also make missiles that explode on you. Lockheed Martin made the F22, until their only customer cancelled the order. Lockheed Martin now makes F35s. F35s are cheaper and smaller than the F22, and the assembly line is rolling! Theoretically, that is. Production of the F35s has been marred by performance doubts, and things are behind schedule at Lockheed Martin again. As of today’s military presentation, Canada hopes to acquire its sixty-five F35s by 2016, in time to retire its F18s. At an estimated cost of 70 to 75 million dollars per plane, plus a whole lot of grey areas where higher-ups can sneak off the usual kickbacks, and probably already are, the total bill comes in at a whopping 9 billion dollars.

Not included in that $9-billion initial expenditure is the $250-350 million per year that the Canadian military estimates it will cost to maintain its new toys. I know, it seems like a lot of money, and we are under-developing as a country in general, thanks in large part to wastes of money like this. But when things seem darkest, rejoice that you aren’t a taxpayer on the hook for 2,443 of these things, at a cost of $323-billion, like our friendly neighbours to the south. Great! We're dumb, but not the dumbest!

And never fear, with increased military spending comes an economy increasingly re-tooled towards war. The military men on the F35 campaign assure all those who will listen that Canada will be receiving lots of great defense contracts, with millions in really bloody dollars flowing into the country like never before. Sure, all money is bloody, but you almost have to wring this stuff out! So far over 60 companies have received $350-million in contracts, and they estimate that our economy stands to make 12 billion dollars before this F35 fiasco is through. So really, the things pay for themselves.

When I was a boy...

When I was a boy there came a time when I looked at all my toys, all my action figures, all my model cars, and I knew that I didn’t really need any more of them. I understood it meant that I wouldn’t be invited over to play war at my friends' houses anymore, but I didn’t really want to hang out with those guys anyways.

So I can understand why the Canadian Forces are eager to buy these F35s. I was there. I was also only three feet tall at the time. Their slide show points out that when we buy them, we can participate in more NATO and NORAD missions, and I can see the excitement in their eyes. Say goodbye to whatever is left of our ‘Peacekeeping’ visage, we’re rolling with the war pigs now, baby! We can hang out with the cool kids, and talk the cool lingo, and Israel will even pay us royalties when they buy their one hundred F35s, because they don’t get to be in the exclusive partnership like we do (true). What a bunch of crap.

We can destroy ‘high-value targets’, with ground-to-air missile defense systems, and radar systems, and enemy fighters, and barely lose a fighter plane doing it. And for a moment I am five, and there are two toy fighter planes in my hands, and I am making ‘whooshing’ sounds and spitting everywhere.

 I ask the military boys if Canada has ever actually destroyed a ‘high-value target’ with its current fleet of F18s. I am told that yes, it happened once, in the First Gulf War. Once. And that one time was justified how?

I ask the military boys why we need sixty-five of these F35s, when they are so much more stealthy than our current fleet of F18s. If nobody can see them, why do we need so many? Why not, say, five, for those really bad times when you just can’t be without an invisible fighter plane? I am told that with sixty-five F35s, the Canadian air force can be deployed in ten places at once, all the while protecting our own borders. So basically we get to play in the Doomsday sandbox.

The Power Point also shows how the F35s can protect Canadian sovereignty, against, I shit you not, bombers with cruise missiles coming over the Arctic, and unknown boats coming into our harbours, also with cruise missiles on them. Cruise missiles made by Lockheed Martin?

In this world of unending imaginary scenarios, where the question of whether or not we should be spending $9-billion on this garbage is already a foregone conclusion, the best our military can do is assure us is that the F35 will protect us against the inevitability of alien invasion (not true).

The audience is also told that with F35s we can sneak up on unidentified boats that are approaching Canadian waters, and spy on them without them knowing that we’re there. And then of course decide whether or not to blow them to smithereens. Maybe it’s just me, but this seems like an over-the-top reaction to what I can already tell you will be the next boatload of impoverished peoples with nothing left to lose, seeking refuge at our increasingly unfriendly ports.

The problem with spending lots of money on new toys is that you usually feel compelled to play with them. This isn’t a problem, perhaps so long as it is part of healthy development, and maybe so long as you’re not hurting anyone but yourself. The problems with spending 9 billion dollars on sixty-five new planes, meant for killing, destruction, and nothing nice, are self-explanatory. It’s not healthy, we’re not kids anymore, these aren’t toys, and we can’t damn well afford it.

Stephen, come out of the sandbox. Come on out of the tar sandbox while you’re at it. No Michael, put down the stealth fighter, playtime is over. Jack, for the love of Tommy Douglas and Ed Broadbent, quit trimming your moustache and deal with this crap! 

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1635 words


paper plane

personally don't think an appeal to the good graces of government is going to get us out of this one... but that is one hell of an awesome photograph.

I would like to see more of a corporate analysis of who exactly is getting these contracts, how the money is flowing, etc.

Who's getting paid?

Hey Dawn,

It's the weekend and all, and I can't seem to find a dollar by dollar breakdown for who gets benefits. There is a F35 website, and here's who they have listed on their partners page. I'll try making a phone call or two on Monday for more info.



great stuff, thanks Miles!

great stuff, thanks Miles!

Not on Vancouver & National Sites WhY?

Why isn't this story on the National and Vancouver sites? Great work Miles. Thanks so much.

Love your view and mind

Love your view and mind Miles.  Im not even from Canada and I would join your march for peace and unity and understanding.


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F-35 in Norway

Wikileaks has realeased cables sent from Oslo revealing the USG strategy behind convincing the Norwegian government to agree to purchase the f-35.

The leaks were released December 3rd and are worth reading. They clearly show the kind of tactics and pressure used to make the sale.






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