Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Big sell on F-35 continues

The Lockheed Martin executive on the Canadian beat, Tom Burbage, was in Montreal yesterday to continue the sell on the F-35: "Lockheed Martin: Spinoffs from F-35 contract." He was speaking at an aerospace industry conference, so it was a case of preaching to the converted. The emphasis in the report is the money that can be made by industry from the F-35. No mention there, however, of the matters raised by Auditor General Sheila Fraser yesterday on the risks of cost escalations that Canada has seen on recent large sole-sourced military buys. So there's a bit of a disconnect that was at play yesterday, with the aerospace companies chiming in with Lockheed Martin yet our Auditor General raising serious questions about military procurement costs by our federal government.

Also no mention in the report of the fact that these aerospace companies would be free to bid for work on the F-35 even if we did not end up buying it. That's permitted under the Memorandum of Understanding we are a participant in. And even if we buy the F-35, then these companies will still be subject to a "best value" competition with companies in other countries. It's just that our companies would "normally" get an advantage in contracting decisions if we buy. "Normally," but no guarantees. And there are questions now about the long term viability and size of the F-35 programme in any event.

It really is quite the structured plan that Lockheed Martin came up with. As we are seeing, it is enticing companies to pressure their governments to buy.

Nevertheless, interesting that this meeting is going on in Montreal, where outside of those walls, as we know, the people recently weighed in heavily against the F-35 purchase.