Letter to the Editor – Brian Marlatt of White Rock British Columbia on the F 35 – February 28, 2011

Dear Editor,

Why should Canada bail out the F-35 Money Pit? Of little use in Canada’s airspace, the F-35 is described by US aerospace analysts as “too big to fail”.  In January, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the F-35B  “should be cancelled” if the costly delays of the main variant are not corrected within two years. The F-35 is the Lehmann Brothers of the US defense industry.

The F-35A is an F-16 replacement for the single-engine market – not Canada.  Barely cheaper than the main variant, the F-35A is an arctic flying coffin for Canadian pilots whose lives it’s Harper supporters see as an acceptable price to pay for continental integration and the US defense industry bailout.  It does employ stealth strike technology but Canadians will not be allowed to service it and, like its single-engine design, doesn’t serve Canadian needs. It is not a CF-18 replacement. CF-18s will need to soldier-on if a twin-engine F-35 stable-mate isn’t found. Conceived in the 1980s, the main variant, the F-35B, is an attempt to build an American replacement for the British Harrier. The less capable F-35A appears to be intended to bring down the per unit cost of the F-35B.

Reflecting Pentagon frustration with spiralling F-35 costs, Gates said “The culture of endless money” in the US military-industrial complex “must be replaced by a culture of restraint”. The Cold War ended twenty years ago. The kind of military spending on arms and Afghanistan which brought the Soviets to their knees shouldn’t be allowed to beggar us too.

If only the US had been as supportive of the superior, twin-engine, Canadian Avro Arrow.

Brian Marlatt – White Rock, British Columbia

(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of the Cornwall Free News, their staff, or sponsors.)

Best Western Cornwall


  1. Brian you as so right. In fact, while we have a Conservative government [and the polls indicate we could have more of the same] why waste money on machines they don’t know how to use. Example: the fiasco in Libya tells it all. A Canadian plane arrives in Tripoli empty and departs an empty plane. The excuse was there was no one at the airport. Nonsense, the TV shows the airport seething with people trying to get out of the country. The BBC indicates how much of a laughing stock we have become under this government. A BBC report tells how Lawrence Canon stated there were 245 Canadians waiting to get out of Libya – 200 got out through other means than Canadian. They were on British ships and planes. Listen to the stories of those who got out. Sad, very sad.

  2. Sorry John but if you read the report in the newspaper that the plane landed in Libya WITHOUT CLEARANCE from the Libyan airport/government authorities! They were put on a “time-line” and had to leave at a certain time. John, why do you try to sensationalize stories about the Conservative government by hiding the pertinent facts? Thats dishonest!

  3. What does any of this have to do with the purchase of F-35 fighter jets? The Avro Arrow went the way of the dodo in 1959 and if you do the math thats 52 years ago and older than the CF-18’s we want to replace. Can we please live in the present?

  4. If I read him right, Brian is dead on. Why are we trying to copy the US and beggaring ourselves in the process? Answer: because Harper’s obsession with power limits his outlook to the military and law and order. If you really want to know where we are headed with Harper, read Erna Paris in the March 2011 issue of “The Walrus.”

  5. I might also have noted that the procurement process used has been explicitly cited in the Australian aerospace journal Airpower as what to avoid as Australia conducts its own evaluation of future aircraft. The last updated CF-18 was delivered less than one year ago. If we buy the F-35 we will need to have CF-18s in service for years to come to do what the F-35 cannot do in Canada’s north.

    Other, better and more capable alternatives exist. The F-22 Raptor – but the Americans won’t sell it to us, just as they wouldn’t sell us the F-4 when it was the best choice, so we bought CF-5s. Eurofighter Typhoon, already in RAF service, and the Super Hornet, in USN service, are very credible alternatives and are twin-engine, suitable to our needs and longer range. They are also compatible to existing air-inflight refueling.

    The RN/RAF F-35 interest is in question because of costing, as is USAF, India rejected it, Australia is problematic. For F-16 users – not Canada – it may still be viable if it is ever built, with first US deliveries unlikely until 2016.

    As to the Arrow reference, it was to willingness to support allied industry, cc’s reference is certainly not that of a concerned citizen but a misreading of the text or perhaps CPC misdirection.

  6. While arguments pro and against may all be valid try to remember it was the Liberal party in power at the time who invested 180 million in the program and pretty much locked us in for a piece of the contracts. Not an entirely bad deal for Canada, the current government is simply following through. Maybe we should buy the Russian SU 50 but I doubt we’d get much of the contract pie.

  7. Repectfully Willliam (if I may use your first name), this isn’t about political parties really. The small amount of money invested a decade ago in this multi-billion dollar project was probably money any government woujld have spent and it does not lock us in to anything. This is a government that spent a billion dollars on G-20 and then told us not to worry, be happy, we can can find a niche in the global economy if we just forget about the Canadian economy (Harper’s closing speech at th G 20 conference).

    The neoCons are bailing out the F-35, not “following through”. At the expense of Canadian interest, pilots lives, and the too often referenced taxpayers expense. We aren’t even going to be allowed to service the stealth technology that was the only reason for investment, Liberal or Reform Party neo-“Conservative”.

    As to the Su-50, it is at present a trainer version development of the excellent Su-27 we first saw at the Abbotsford Air Show a generation ago. It has potential. As the Su-35 which the F-35 can’t match, but it is a development.

    If you want to make your case, you must insist that Canada drop the F-35 and demand that the Americans sell us the F-22 Raptor.

    Good luck with that.

  8. Point well taken. Canada hs flown single engine aircraft in the North in the past without notable incident. Current engines are infinitley more reliable today then 50 years ago. Maybe the Raptor is a viable alternative worthy of discussion. Why didnt the government invest 180 million in that? As for stealth technology it is largley myth, these aircraft are all very visible to modern radar sure they have reduced signature and harder to pick up on more vintage systems but they arnt the cloaking devices we watch on Star Trek yet we are led to believe that. The f18s we can all agree need to be replaced at great expense but if we can offset the cost by providing Canadian companies with billions in contracts we need to consider that.

  9. I think, Mr. Jones, you are misinformed on some points.

    Apart from training/reconnaissance OTU Starfighters flying from Cold Lake, we have not flown single-engine jet fighters in the North since the days when Sabres flew. As for “without notable incident,” I recall a conversation when in university with a former 104 fighter jock flying number 2 to a 104 which went down into the side of mountain over the Rockies with the lose of both pilot and plane. Engine failure was a possibility. I’m sure his family thought it was a “notable incident.

    Rescue of a downed F-35 pilot in the Rockies, too, is problematic; in the far North even more so.

    Voodoos flew long-range interception in Canadian airspace prior to the CF-18, from Bagotville, Chatham, or Comox and detachment to Uplands. Not Starfighters. Voodoos and CF-18s have two engines.

    As to the F-22, the prototype was already flying in 1997; it isn’t available. As to contract offsets and business opportunities, that would be part of any negotiation and better terms from other aircraft manufacturers are part of the reason why India cancelled the F-35.

  10. The Indians are buying planes from Tata in India. The same one who builds a 4-door sedan for $2500.

Leave a Reply