Earlier this year, the federal government announced its plan to purchase 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets from Lockheed-Martin. The transaction, Canada’s most expensive military purchase to date, will cost taxpayers around $9 billion.
Since the announcement of the proposal, the federal government has come under significant criticism, most of it revolving around its large cost and the irregularities in the tendering of the contract for the jets. Nonetheless, the fact remains that Canada’s military, and especially its air force, is rather antiquated and is in dire need of updating. This modernization will also enable Canada to meet its treaty obligations in organizations such as NATO and NORAD. As a founding member of both of these organizations, Canada has an obligation to participate in their actions and operations.
The development of the F-35 jet was in some ways a NATO project, with development being shared by Canada, the United States, Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Norway, all of whom plan to eventually adopt the F-35 for use in their respective air forces. As Canada’s current jet fighter, the CF-18/A Hornet becomes obsolete, Canada will become increasingly less able to meet its NATO and NORAD obligations effectively. The purchase and delivery of the F-35 jets will allow Canada to continue to make significant contributions to both organizations, as well as to meet its independent defence requirements as effectively as possible.
Once purchased and delivered, the new F-35 jets are sure to bring Canada’s air force into the 21st century. They will replace the CF-18/A Hornet, Canada’s ageing multi-purpose fighter jet. Although it has served Canada’s needs, the Hornet entered the Canadian Air Force 28 years ago and is beginning to show its age. In contrast, the F-35 saw its first flight in 2006, and is widely considered to be the most advanced combat aircraft ever designed. It contains state-of-the-art battlefield awareness, avionics, and stealth technologies, and can be used against targets in the air, as well as against land-based targets.
At this time, the F-35 is the most refined fighter jet Canada could have chosen, and it promises to be the most effective.
The proposed purchase of the 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets, although costly, is necessary. Canada’s air force is in dire need of modernization if it is to continue to counter such threats as those posed when Russian bombers entered Canadian air space earlier last month. The F-35 jet will help Canada honour the obligations to NATO and NORAD that it is treaty-bound to keep.