Federal Government Cancels F-35 Fighter Purchase (excerpt)
(Source: The Ottawa Citizen; published Dec. 6, 2012)
OTTAWA --- The F-35 jet fighter purchase, the most persistent thorn in the federal government’s side and the subject of a devastating auditor-general’s report last spring, is dead.
Faced with the imminent release of an audit by accountants KPMG that will push the total projected life-cycle costs of the aircraft above $30 billion, the operations committee of the federal Cabinet decided to scrap the controversial sole-source program and go back to the drawing board, a source familiar with the decision said.
This occurred after Chief of the Defence Staff Thomas Lawson, while en route overseas, was called back urgently to appear before the committee, the source said.
The decision is sure to have ripple effects around the world, as any reduction in the number of aircraft on order causes the price to go up for all the other buyers. Canada is one of nine F-35 consortium members, including the United States.
The CF-18s currently flown by the RCAF are at the tail end of their life cycle and are not expected to be operable much beyond 2020 at the outside.
The fighter procurement process has been the responsibility of Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose since last spring, following an audit by Auditor General Michael Ferguson. It is understood that veteran senior bureaucrat Tom Ring, who handled the government’s much-praised shipbuilding contract process in the fall of 2011, is now steering the reframed fighter replacement process, from within Public Works. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Ottawa Citizen website.
F-35 Deal Not Cancelled, Tories Insist; Update On the Government's Plan to Purchase New Fighter Jets Expected Next Week
(Source: CBC News; last updated: Dec 7, 2012)
The Harper government says it has not made a decision on the F-35 as a replacement for Canada's CF-18 fighter jets, but the government now appears to concede that alternative fighter purchase options will be considered.
The Prime Minister's Office denied a media report Thursday that the F-35 purchase was dead, calling the report "inaccurate on a number of fronts" and promising to update the House of Commons on its seven-point plan to replace the jets before the House rises for the Christmas break at the end of next week.
That plan is now expected to involve a real competition.
Part of the government's new process for replacing the aircraft is an audit of the F-35's costs by accounting firm KPMG. The government said Thursday it now has the report and is reviewing it.
CBC News has learned the KPMG report is based on a longer and more realistic life cycle for the next-generation stealth fighter, which would therefore also arrive with a higher price tag than previously reported. (end of excerpt)
(EDITOR’S NOTE: So the Canadian government says it has not decided to cancel the F-35 purchase, but that it will re-open a competitive evaluation of competitors. The only way to explain these two contradictory statements is that it has already decided that the F-35 will win the new evaluation. But this can’t be true, can it?)
Click here for the full story, on the CBC news website.
Cost Of Buying, Servicing F-35 Fighter Jets Soars to $40B: Sources
(Source: CTV News; published Dec. 6, 2012)
The cost of buying and servicing the F-35 stealth fighter jets that Ottawa has been planning to purchase has skyrocketed to about $40 billion, CTV News has learned, as the Conservative government considers alternative aircraft.
A report commissioned by the government, which will be released next week, will kick off a review of the entire jet fighter procurement process and the need to replace Canada’s aging fleet of CF-18 jets.
The report examined the cost of buying, maintaining and operating 65 F-35 jets over a period of 36 years. The soaring price tag has prompted officials to consider purchasing less expensive war aircraft. Options to be examined by an independent panel include the U.S.-made Super Hornet and Swedish-made Gripen, sources say.
The Conservatives’ plan to purchase the F-35 jets has been mired in controversy since a scathing auditor general's report accused both National Defence and Public Works of hiding the true cost of the project.
Ottawa said the program would cost between $14.7 billion and $16 billion, but auditor general Michael Ferguson and Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page disputed those figures.
Ferguson accused the Defence Department of low-balling the estimate by not including operating expenses, and said it would actually cost more than $25 billion, but government officials denied trying to hide anything.
Page had estimated it would cost $29.3 billion to purchase and maintain the jets.
Now, it looks like the cost would exceed both of those estimates. Alan Williams, a former senior procurement officer with the federal government, said the price of the “complex” jet program has been going up since Ottawa initiated the procurement process.
“We ought to wait until the development is done and the platform is operational,” he told CTV’s Power Play Thursday. “But we dipped our toes into the water much too early in the program, without knowing the cost or the capability. And that’s why we’re saddled with this situation today.”
However, NDP defence critic Jack Harris said the “sticker shock is going to make people say this is not something that’s affordable.”