CRS report on the F35

The Federation of American Scientists has a website, www.fas.org. On that website is a subsection called Secrecy News, published by Steven Aftergood. I am a fan. It is possible to get updates eMailed to you, and I do.It is possible to contribute from Canada, and on a couple of occa$ions, I have. Aftergood is an expert on secrecy and has been called in front of Congress to testify on it. He is an advocate of information freedom.

So much for background. The F35 Joint Strike Fighter is a bit of a lemon. The project is overrunning. The Brits have decided to cut the B version. Good thing; they were considering updating their aircraft carriers to take advantage of it.

A Congressional Research Service report on the F35 is available here.

I will make a few points from this report.This is from memory after a single reading. Do feel free to check me by reading it yourself, eh? {8;^>}

  • Canada’s contribution is stated to be between $125 and $175 million. We are not a serious partner in this report. There are eight countries outside the USA participating. Only the UK is considered to be a tier one contributor.
  • Offsetting cash for participation was stated as Not being part of this joint development. Later we find that Israel got a Lot of offsetting cash, and are committed to purchasing fewer planes than we (Canada) are. Apparently we whined nicely on receiving this news.
  • The B version is in deep trouble. It uses aluminum where other versions use titanium. Odd bits associated with vertical landing are failing (hinges, for one example, on air flaps).
  • The project is, indeed (as hinted elsewhere in this blog, I can guess right sometimes, eh?) so far over budget as to require a formal review and justification as being In The National Defence Critical Interest to proceed.
  • The Brits aren’t too happy with technology transfer. Apparently the code to run the onboard computers (which run everything, eh?) was not, and then was, going to be shared.
  • The Americans aren’t too happy with technology transfer. They think they may be giving other nations too much information. Italy wants to have an assembly plant.
  • Dual procurement seems to have gone by the board. The “136 engine” was dropped. The ejection seat is made outside the USA.
  • Weight appears to be a problem. ? fuses ? in the hydraulic lines, and a cockpit fire extinguisher, have been dropped, apparently to save weight. This means that a “ballistic” attack could cost a plane. Translation: a bullet could leave the pilot with a fire and no means to put it out.
  • The plane will cost perhaps $300 million. Each. This could go up. The official cost is already north of $250 million.
  • The project used a technique of overlapping building and testing. The assumption was that computer modelling would find most of the flaws. This has been contentious and appears to have been an expensive decision.
  • Most other countries have greatly reduced their intended plane purchase count. The obvious exceptions are Canada (80 to 65, maybe) and Israel (20 to 40, maybe). Did I mention that Israel is getting a financial kickback of some sort? see next.
  • ¬†Israel announced that it had an agreement for $5.3 billion in proposed offsets as part of its deal to acquire 20 F-35s, leading to Canadian objections that their much larger investment would yield a proportionally smaller share of offset work. This is an exact quote from the report. May I point out that 20 times $300 million is $6 billion? They may get the planes for free. We (Canada) definitely will not.

Enough already. Read the report. eMail your MP, your MPP, Stephen Harper, and Dalton McGuinty. I don’t think the minister of defence really listens to anyone but Stephen Harper, whom I doubt of listening to anyone.¬† (Maybe our provincial Premier can get us a better equalization payments or hospital funding deal by agreeing to shut up about the F35. How’s that for cynicism, eh?)

Tell them that we don’t need this plane. Wait until it actually flies. The Saudis just bought F15s. Why do we need F35s? This is a ridiculous expense, along with prisons, that makes no sense. It doesn’t even create much in the way of jobs. Tell your MP to stop this thing. Tell Stephen Harper that you can add and subtract, and read a CRS report. Ask him to do the same thing.

After all, it is your money. It is our country.

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