Murray Brewster has been on the F-35 story in Canada like a terrier. His latest story makes it abundantly clear that there is a huge contradiction in Canadian defence planning: the future of airware is so important that Canada must invest huge amounts of money in the latest and supposedly greatest plane--the F-35. At the same time, the plane is unlikely to come in on schedule but there is no plan for filling the gap as the current F-18s go beyond their lifespan. So, the need for the best is extreme but it is ok if we have a gap between the two generations of planes? See the contradiction?
Well, politically, it makes sense. If you really want plane A, do not prepare any alternatives so that if plane A has problems, the opposition cannot switch the tracks to plan B and another plane. If there were was another plane that could fill the gap, then the urgency of buying an over-priced, under-performing plane would be less clear.
I am reading Brewster's book on Canada and Afghanistan, The Savage War, where there is a similar theme--that the Tories tend to go all in on a particular path and then don't know how to adjust or shift direction.
What frustrates me greatly about the Harper government is not that they chose the F-35, but they didn't seem to really think that hard about it and weigh the alternatives. Even or especially now, there does not seem to be much re-consideration of the options. Other countries, such as Australia, are thinking seriously about the tradeoffs and the likely outcomes. Canada has its head in the snow.