Mr. Trudeau, Canada needs F-35s to deter Russian nuclear warfighting strategy
Mr. Trudeau, what do you want intercepting and deterring nuclear-armed Russian strategic bombers in the Canadian North? A fifth-generation fighter aircraft in the F-35, loaded with sensors, that can operate with our American, Danish and Norwegian allies, and can drop anything in the sky, or F-18 Super Hornets rapidly approaching their best before date? In Russian war fighting nuclear doctrine that escalates to the use of nuclear weapons, to de-escalate from a war or pending conflict, Canada could be the big loser. One has to be careful here, the Trudeau government is devoting great resources to silencing critics, including distinguished veterans, like the Hon. Laurie Hawn, who speak truth to power.
Yesterday, it was reported that Russia had deployed nuclear-capable, road-mobile, SSC-8 Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) with a range of 2000 kilometers, in violation of sections of the 1987 the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The fact that Russia tested and deployed nuclear-capable cruise missiles in Eastern Russia, and potentially, the annexed Russian enclave in Kaliningrad should be of no surprise to anyone. In July 2014, the Obama administration knew that the Russians were in the process of developing for deployment the SSC-8 GLCM and reported on the violation but then did nothing concrete to deter the Russians from moving forward.
Russia reportedly has deployed two battalions of the SSC-8 GLCM with one based in its test facility at Kapustin Yar and the other has been located at an operational base somewhere unknown in Russia. A battalion includes four launchers and six SSC-8 GLCM for each. Here is the best news. The launcher vehicle is believed to be the same as the Iskander SS-26 Stone Short Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM), which may be either nuclear and or conventionally-tipped, and due to its range of under 500 kilometers is allowed under the 1987 INF Treaty. There are numerous reports of the Russians moving Iskander SRBMs into Kaliningrad but for all we know it could be something much worse. By putting these first strike or pre-emptive strike weapons on Iskander launchers Russia has made identifying, finding, tracking and targeting the SSC-8 GLCMs that much more difficult if next to impossible. Add to this menacing weapon, Russia’s nuclear-capable, SS-N-30A Kalibr Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM) with a range of between 1500 to 2500 kilometers that has been deployed to sea on Russian warships, and NATO European security is a pressing matter of concern.
Russian cheating the 1987 INF Treaty in the past has been linked to so-called gray areas in the treaty and has been noticed, but received with little or no reaction. The Russians have always argued that they have security concerns on their Southern flank and in Asia that are not NATO-related, thus should have some latitude in fulfilling their obligations. But that was before the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, and Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimea in 2014, and the civil war that continues, and now things are different. Yesterday, the Trump administration made clear again that the United States expects Russia to return the Crimea to Ukraine. Today, Russia’s reaction was that Crimea was Russian territory and it would stay Russian. The Putin Regime have abandoned the Minsk Agreements much like they have long ago abandoned key aspects of INF Treaty.
Some might argue that the real issue is not the cheating and abandonment of the treaties, though a worrying trend, but the development and deployment of weapons complimentary to Russia’s warfighting nuclear doctrine, that emphasizes escalation into the nuclear realm, to de-escalate a conflict. Russia’s strategic nuclear doctrine suggests that if Russian interests were at stake in a conventional conflict with the United States and NATO, that it could use a limited nuclear strike as a ‘warning shot’ to force an opponent to back away without further conventional or nuclear action. Without question the SSC-8 GLCM and SS-N-30A Kalibr LACM are just such weapons to fulfill that strategic option in a war or pending war.
Similarly, on several occasions Russia has deployed units of its long-range strategic aviation fleet, in the Tu-95 Bear Bomber, to conduct Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) attack drills on North America by deploying the bombers to attack boxes in our North, Pacific and North Atlantic Coasts in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. The Tu-95 Bear Bombers carry the nuclear-capable Kh-55/ AS-15 Kent ALCM with a range of 2500 kilometers and as part of their escalation to de-escalate strategy reportedly plan ‘warning shot’ strikes on critical infrastructure in the energy and power sector so critical to the North American economy. Guess who the big loser is likely to be in North America if the energy or power grid comes under even limited nuclear attack in a Russian effort to limit a broader or pending war? Canada. By striking Canadian targets, the Russians lessen the likelihood of American nuclear escalation than they do in striking similar targets on American soil.
In life as the old-adage goes, “You can be part of the problem, or part of the solution.” If we want to be part of the alliances in NORAD and NATO deterring Russia, Mr. Trudeau we need F-35 fighters without delay.