Buying used Australian fighter jets to buttress the Royal Canadian Air Force is expected to cost taxpayers as much as $1.1 billion over the next dozen or more years, the Parliamentary Budget Office said Thursday.
That estimate, in a new analysis, is 22 per cent higher than figures presented by the Department of National Defence and will likely mean renewed criticism of the Liberal government's plan.
Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux looked at the cost of buying 18 old F-18s, modifying them to Canadian standards, operating them until at least 2032 and disposing of them.
The warplanes, which are of the same vintage as the air force's existing CF-18s, are expected to arrive in batches between now and 2022. The first two aircraft arrived recently.
DND planners estimated the cost would be up to $895.5 million. The budget office figures it will be higher, running between $1.09 billion and $1.15 billion.
Giroux says the biggest difference between the two estimates relates to upgrading the fighters to Canadian standards.
Even still, he is puzzled by the disagreement. In preparing its estimate, the budget office used figures from the Department of National Defence and publicly available information. "Why have they underestimated the cost? I wonder myself." Giroux told reporters after the report was presented.
"Given that they provided us with the basic information we used, I don't see why they would have missed the mark by 22 per cent." (end of excerpt)
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