Monday, February 28, 2011

Libya, CF-18s and F-35s

Updated below.

Canadian Press has a report tonight about a possible military build up in connection with Libya that Canada might be somehow involved in although it's not clear what's going to happen and how we might be involved if at all. The report nevertheless speculates about CF-18s, our present day jet fighters, being mentioned as possible participants in a possible NATO enforced no-fly zone.

The possibility of the CF-18s being used seems to be raised by just one person, an academic, Rob Huebert of the University of Calgary, with this perspective:
Use of an air force squadron enforcing a humanitarian no-fly zone would "certainly bolster the government's side of the argument" over the F-35, said Huebert.
A brief point on that below. But first, a quick look at Huebert's credentials that should be taken into account when assessing his aforementioned view. Here's his "Honorary Colonel" page on the Canadian Air Force website:
Dr. Rob Huebert, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Calgary, is a member of the Air Command Advisory Council. He is also the associate director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies.
How does one get to be an Honorary Colonel? Additionally, the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies received $140,000 per year from the Canadian military through the Security and Defence Forum as of 2009. That is all information going to the issue of expert independence that is not included in the CP report that readers can judge for themselves as to the weight his view should be given.

So why would deployment of the CF-18s bolster the government's case for the F-35? I mean, the CF-18s will be used until their lifespan ends some time around 2020. Every time they are used this will support the Conservative case for the choice of the F-35? I suppose Huebert is just saying that the fact of their use will remind Canadians about the importance of jet fighters. But that presumes that there are people saying Canada should have no jet fighter capabilities. Which, as far as I know at the federal level, there aren't. There is a debate about the choice of the F-35, that's for sure, given its problems in terms of cost and delay. And there has been no competition and no disclosure to the Canadian public about the "Statement of Operational Requirements" supporting the case for the F-35. Those are issues yet to be resolved, despite the hard sell by the Conservatives and the occasional plug in such reports.

Update: No word on CF-18s elsewhere, including this Globe update or this Star report late Monday night.