Canada likely to spend another US$70.1 million on the development of the F-35 fighter jet
Last May, the Canadian Press reported: “Canada made the annual F-35 payment to the U.S. military last week, spending US$70.1 million to remain one of nine partner countries in the fighter-jet project.”
It highlights: “Each partner is required to cover a portion of the plane’s multibillion-dollar development costs to stay at the table.”
Last year’s payment brought Canada’s total spending on the development of the F-35 warplane to US$541.3 million.
Money well spent?
The Canadian Press article notes: “Staying in the program has advantages, as partners get a discount when purchasing the jets and compete for billions of dollars in contracts associated with building and maintaining them.”
The government, according to the article, says Canadian companies have secured US$1.8 billion in work related to the stealth fighter.
But research shows that spending on the military generates less for the economy than other expenditures of public funds.
Research by the Costs of War Project based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs found that while $1 million spent on “defence” creates 6.9 direct and indirect jobs, the same amount invested in solar power creates 9.5 jobs, in health care 14.3 jobs, and in elementary and secondary education 19.2 jobs.
Technical and operational concerns with the F-35
Forbes also recently reported: “With a sticker price of around $100 million per plane, including the engine, the F-35 is expensive. While stealthy and brimming with high-tech sensors, it’s also maintenance-intensive, buggy and unreliable.”
It then quotes Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown Jr. who compares the F-35 to a Ferrari and says: “You don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day, you only drive it on Sundays. This is our ‘high end’ [fighter], we want to make sure we don’t use it all for the low-end fight. I want to moderate how much we’re using those aircraft.”
That article concludes: “Brown’s comments are a tacit admission that the F-35 has failed.”
Fighter jet decision coming soon; $76.8 billion price tag
The Government of Canada’s timeline for the purchase of new fighter jets notes that “the initial evaluation of proposals is anticipated to be completed by spring 2021” and further promises to award the contract in 2022.
This would suggest that as long as a decision remains pending, the Canadian government will continue to make the annual payment on the development of the F-35.
The cost of purchasing new fighter jets has been pegged at $15-19 billion, but significantly a recent report by the No Fighter Jets coalition estimated the life-cycle costs of 88 fighter jets to be $76.8 billion (including these development costs).