View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – An interesting turn of events – Libya and the F-35 – March 1, 2011

Ottawa ON – It must be a bit embarrassing these days for those who have been criticizing the Conservative’s purchase of new military equipment.

As the situation in Libya deteriorates and Gadhafi counters the efforts of the population to remove him, western powers must now consider if they will use military force to protect the population. In the initial stages this usually involves the use of air power to enforce a “no fly” zone. If Libyan military aircraft violate that zone they would be shot down.

This requires combat trained pilots in sophisticated jet fighters, flying aircraft suitably equipped for air to air combat. It is more than likely that Libyan ground forces would deploy antiaircraft missile systems to protect their fighters. As such, you also need aircraft capable of a ground attack role to knock the launchers out. A fighter that has stealth technology that makes it difficult for enemy radar to lock onto and destroy it is certainly an asset. Come to think of it that does sound a lot like the F-35!

Back when the F-35 debate first started who would have thought Canada might be asked to participate in such an endeavour. Certainly the Liberals didn’t with their promise to scrap the contract nor did some of the lefties who went so far as to suggest we didn’t need any such aircraft, but perhaps we should use drones instead.

I also remember all the criticism directed at the Conservatives over the purchase of the C-17s and the new Hercules aircraft. These are the same aircraft that Canada is now deploying to evacuate civilians from Libya.

The Liberals are now on their soapbox demanding that Canada be front and center in the Libyan issue and they are demanding that Canada do more. Nice, but besides pounding the table and sounding important you must be able to back your words up. If the UN or the western countries or NATO decides that force must be used we would look pretty stupid waving our flag from the sidelines telling the rest of the world to “go and get them boys”.

Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and one reason you give your armed forces the very best equipment is that you never know when they might be needed. You never know when another Libya or Bosnia will come along. The other reason you give them the very best equipment possible is that any government needs to do everything it can to protect our brave men and women and bring them back alive.

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