Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The big sale

A new and improved F-35 push is underway:
Government sources tell Defence Watch that there has been some frustration in how the original PR plan for the JSF unfolded; the press conference on Friday July 16 didn’t produce the positive media coverage PMO advisors had expected. In addition, the recent effort to link the JSF purchase to the threat of “excursions” by Russian “bombers” (aka routine patrols by Russian aircraft) ended up looking foolish, some advisors suggest.

This time around, there will be more of a push to get senior air force officers out promoting the proposed JSF purchase.

The prime minister’s office has worked out and approved a series of talking points to provide to officers so they can recite them to journalists. The talking points are similar to those used by Ambrose yesterday - they will emphasis the benefits to industry but as well the need to start the replacement process for the CF-18s now and the aspect that the JSF provides inter-operability with NATO allies.
You may have caught some of the brand spanking new talking points in action last night:
“If they can’t detect us and don’t know where we are, it dramatically changes their potential tactics. So it is a deterrent,” Gen. Deschamps said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
“Nobody expects somebody to come in and roll ashore here in the next little while,” he said. “But it’s a question of being able to exercise your sovereignty. And you can’t do that sitting on the runway saying, ‘I wish I could go out there without these guys knowing I’m going to be there two hours before the intercept point.’”
“Who knows 50 years from now? Who knows what the North Koreans will be up to? The Iranians?” he said.
Yeah, who knows, eh? More from Canadian Press:

"The $9 billion, yeah, it's a bit of sticker shock — it's a big number, but you know the last time I checked, nothing gets cheaper over time," the chief of air staff said Tuesday.

"Is it an unreasonable cost? I don't think so."

Deschamps said Canada is expected to pay between $70 million and $75 million per aircraft and the price will be locked in once Ottawa signs a final agreement, likely in 2014.

The air force examined other choices, including an improved version of the CF-18 and the Eurofighter, but the Lightning II proved to be the best all-round aircraft, he said.

However, the chief of air staff would not say what the price difference between the various aircraft might be, citing the confidentiality of the competing aircraft makers.
Hard to say if all of that is an improvement or not. I mean, at least somebody is speaking publicly about this historic purchase at all. That's an improvement in our democratically starved governance regime. But as for substance...probably a work in progress.