Trudeau's Purchase of Second Tier F-18 Super Hornets Means Strategic Irrelevance in Future NORAD
The Trudeau government has just taken the next step in rendering Canada’s Royal Canadian Air Force irrelevant in both NORAD and in NATO. They say that the apple does not fall far from the tree and he is carrying on with the disarmament of Canada just like his father before him.
When a government makes an announcement during the Christmas, March, or a Summer Break and the House is not sitting, you can bet that it is a real ‘stinker’ and they want to avoid scrutiny. I was once told by a long-time Parliamentarian that the favorite words of the Liberal Party are, “quick, quick, no one is looking.” Yesterday’s announcement on interim purchase of a second tier, fourth generation fighter plane, namely 18 F-18 Super Hornet’s, to fill a so-called capability is a case in point. The Trudeau Liberals have sent a letter of intent to the U.S. government detailing the fighter requirement, a timeline for acquisition, and the necessary economic benefits Canada needs to make the purchase palatable to the public. The stench here in Ottawa is almost unbearable, because what this really means is that the government is cancelling the F-35 purchase and that there will be no fair and open competition to replace it in the future, it will be F-18 Super Hornet.
First, there is no “fighter capability” and there is now an invented requirement to have ‘enough’ fighters for both NORAD and NATO at the same time in what is a Cold War-era warfighting scenario. Second, we know that the purchase of 18 F-18 Super Hornets is just the beginning, the Liberal government have an option to buy another 15 fighter planes. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not talking about this because that would lay the truth bare in terms of the fact that this is not an interim purchase it is an outright directed purchase. Third, the Liberals who lavishly spend don’t mind getting a deal on paying for 18 fighter aircraft up front and then paying through the nose when the price gets jacked up on the next 15 F-18 Super Hornets after that. Boeing will be laughing all the way to the bank. After all, no one will be looking save the Auditor General?
So the best thing we can say about the process that Mr. Trudeau and his Ministers have embarked on is that it is shamelessly dishonest, the worst is that he is rendering the future of the Royal Canadian Air Force as irrelevant to both NORAD and NATO. Both are true. You make a directed purchase of an aircraft fleet under the guise of an interim acquisition to fill a capability gap that you know does not exist. Let’s be crystal clear, warplanes and warships do not get second prize showing in combat, pilots and sailors turn up dead, it is as simple as that. The F-35 is the best aircraft available and the only aircraft available to match the stealth capabilities of both China and Russia’s next generation of fighter aircraft fleets. All of our allies operating in the Arctic will be flying F-35s including, and most importantly in terms of NORAD, the US. Mr. Trudeau and his Ministers avoid this in speaking points because they have been told, in terms of our Arctic, when there is a Russian bomber visiting our Arctic air defense zone, that the US will be forced to take care of it because F-18 Super Hornets and legacy CF-18s will compromise the safety of a NORAD response and the US cannot take that chance. Thus, in real terms, Canada has just ceded Northern sovereignty to the US. If you are not prepared to protect your own territory you can bet someone else will do it for you and for very different motivations. Canada is going to find itself chasing airliners that might be a hijack threat while the US patrols our North. In terms of NATO, there will be front-line fighter fleets and there will be a second tier. We will be comfortably in the second tier. Perhaps that is what Mr. Trudeau wants in the end, strategic irrelevance. He comes from a family known for its disinterest and neglect in defense matters.
Let’s just hope that when President Trump and Congress get briefed that they stick to the high points and don’t go into any detail on the Canadian ask. I am certain that the US National Security Council and the President’s political advisers will put the best possible spin on this acquisition of F-18 Super Hornets that the US is getting ready to phase out and retire. “Mr. President, great news, Canada has joined the second tier in Air Force capability within both NORAD and NATO and President Trump, we get their Arctic.” For a President who has promised to reduce the cost of the F-35, let’s hope that Mr. Trump’s advisers and those briefing Congress (and who will approve this deal) that Canada’s decision not to purchase 65 fighter aircraft that it was already committed to is glossed over. Particularly since this decision by Trudeau will jack-up the price on the F-35 for everyone else in the program including the US. Congress.