Canada could buy a US $158 million warplane with a $44,000 per hour 8,000-hour lifespan

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Economic justice, including a living wage, is fundamental to all human rights. This principle has informed the campaigns seeking a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Earlier this year, the Center for Defense Information highlighted: “It costs approximately $44,000 per hour to fly the F-35. Extrapolated out over the expected 8,000-hour lifespan of each F-35, the [US armed] services will spend $352 million to operate a single jet.”

Their article further notes that the lifespan of an F-35 could be as low as 2,100 flight hours, dramatically increasing its cost per hour.

Significantly, Canada could sign a $19 billion contract next year to purchase 88 of these warplanes. It has been estimated that the costs to operate and sustain these aircraft could total close to another $60 billion.

Economic choices

The Center has also reported: “Sold in 2001 as a cheap multi-role fighter at a promised $38 million per plane, the troubled F-35, now at an average $158.4 million per copy, continues to dramatically underperform in crucial areas including availability and reliability, cyber-vulnerability testing, and life-expectancy testing.”

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.

A quick calculation suggests that the money needed to purchase one F-35 could generate 1,090 defence sector jobs, but if spent on education would create 3,033 jobs.

Since 1997, the Government has invested CAD $770 million in the development of the F-35. It argues that Canadian companies have secured more than US $2 billion in production and maintenance contracts related to this warplane. It does not offer comparative calculations if that money were spent on peaceful production.

$347 million war on Libya

The issue of cost and flying hours have been previously raised with respect to the bombing missions conducted by Canadian CF-18 fighter jets over Libya.

The Canadian Press has reported: “In terms of a jet’s airframe life, every hour spent on combat sorties equals three of regular mission use at home. The Libya campaign had the potential to add 9,000 flying hours to jets that were already well into middle age.”

The monetary cost of Canada’s intervention in Libya, including jet fuel and the salaries of pilots and support personnel, totalled $347 million.

Ten years later, Libya has gone from having one of the highest standards of living in Africa to having more than 200,000 people who are internally displaced and 1.3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

By the hour

Tamara Lorincz has pointed out: “The average hourly cost to operate an F-35 is sky-high at about $40,000, which is close to the yearly salary of an essential worker such as a paramedic, nurse and long-term care worker.”

An F-35 carrying 18,500 pounds of fuel can burn all of that in under an hour at full speed. By comparison, for a worker struggling to pay for a 40 litre tank of gas for their car, an F-35 can burn more than 10,000 litres of fuel in an hour.

The Government of Canada plans to spend an estimated $76.8 billion on a fleet of fighter jets. While weapons sales are profitable for the corporations that sell them, they represent a massive diversion of public dollars from the needs of people.

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