Saturday, July 17, 2010

PBS News Hour video report on our new $16 billion F-35 jet fighters

Here's a report from PBS' News Hour on the F-35 fighter jet that the Harper government announced yesterday that we would be buying at a cost of $9 billion ($16 billion with servicing is the widely reported total cost estimate). This report, "Pentagon's F-35 Fighter Under Fire in Congress," aired on April 21, 2010, just 3 months ago and raises a number of serious questions about our purchase of this jet. It's described as a "complicated aircraft," its project manager was fired by the Pentagon in February of this year. It's a jet that one critic here says may never be affordable and should be cancelled.

Granted, it's just one report but the need for Canada to have at least gone through a competitive bidding process and canvassed other options becomes much more apparent after watching it. It certainly provides helpful context for the statements made by the Harper ministers at the announcement yesterday, from MacKay's bold reassurance that the F-35's single engine won't fail, to his statement that this is the best aircraft for our men and women in uniform and to Ambrose's understandable reluctance to say how much these jets will ultimately cost.

Note that the Harper government's announcement is being played in the Washington Post as a timely lifeline for Lockheed Martin's F-35 programme amidst the cost overruns and when some allies are hedging on buying these jets.

Transcript for the PBS video is here.