Thursday, September 16, 2010

Of policies in force

For the record, as we're about to be bamboozled to no end by spin about the F-35 purchase, and a new term is entering Canadians' lexicon, the "industrial and regional benefits" programme, here's a brief statement on it from the DND site:
Not only does funding for new equipment benefit the Canadian Forces, it also benefits Canadians and Canadian industry. The Industrial and Regional Benefits (IRB) program is an applied requirement for all major defence procurements; every dollar the Government of Canada pays a contractor, the contractor must spend an equivalent amount inside Canada. IRBs are mandatory on all defence projects over $100 million, allowing the federal government to lever long-term industrial and regional development from defence investments. This ensures that no matter where defence equipment is from, the Canadian economy benefits from the Government's investment.
The Conservative approach to the F-35 acquisition is an exception to government of Canada policy. There are lengthy lists of projects proceeding under this policy at the DND site. The Conservative choice to abandon IRB in the context of the now debated Lockheed Martin F-35 situation is causing some to engage in economics seminars over the IRB programme's very merit, but otherwise, it's government policy and the fact that it's being ignored is going to continue to dog the Conservatives.

In the backdrop to all of this, news this week of Pentagon cuts that are targeting the F-35 programme in particular:
The Pentagon is also scrutinizing how to cut back on inefficiencies and overhead costs on designing and building the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. The price of the highly advanced fighter jet has jumped to $92 million per aircraft in 2010 from $50 million each in 2000.
The Americans are cutting defense spending and looking at their programmes, isn't it appropriate that we ask some questions, at a minimum, about the choices we're making? Some parties are saying yes, some a flat no.