Canadian Military Equipment Spending – some comments – and some Dumb Questions

We’ve seen some rather interesting purchase decisions made by our military, when it comes to vehicles, from LAVs to frigates.

I won’t beat to death the Brian Mulroney allegations about airbus, Schreiber, and LAV’s.

I will point out that we just decided to spend an additional $151 million to upgrade more of our current LAV’s, adding this to a $1.06 billion contract already in place.

Our ships are a more interesting set of problems. Not only is the cost high, but if you read this article closely, I think you’ll notice that the frigates are being built on the same length (as an afterthought) as the destroyer, and some choices now have to be made because it will be top-heavy with the planned radar installation etc. The navy doesn’t seem to think they’ll actually get these boats for quite some time.

Now for our submarines. If you look at this article in CBC, you’ll see that a British MP thinks we were insane to purchase them. One of them caught fire. One has the torpedo tubes welded shut (they leak). And, the torpedoes we can get don’t fit in those tubes. (Research this one yourself, eh?) One of these subs on its own cost us $47 million in fix-ups – so far.

Once we become airborne, the problems seem to have even more trouble getting our military off the ground, so to speak. First, the helicopters. In this article in CBC news, our helicopters may not be ready for five more years. They are already four years late and $300 million over budget.

Now for the pinnacle of air power, our fighter jets. The contract was sole-sourced. In this article in CTV news, you’ll read that the price per plane has doubled.So far.

I have blogged on these planes before. The F-35 project is pretty much in official jeopardy in the USA due to cost overruns, delays, and all-up testing which means planes exist that don’t meet specifications and after testing, have to be retrofitted.

I recall that at one point the fire extinguishers were removed to save weight. At another point, the navy short-takeoff / vertical landing version was put on hold, as the ‘nozzle’ for redirecting the jet blase for vertical landing was a new challenge to design.

Now for the dumb questions:

Are we (Canadian citizens and voters) stupid? Is this history of military spending indicative of competence? Are our dollars being spent on weapons that may not work, when we refuse to pass more federal money back to the cities? Are we being screwed?

And, are you going to do anything about it? Write or eMail your MP and your Prime Minister?

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