Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Best Laugh fo the Day: Canadian Air Force To Defend Against Iran

Talking about grasping for straws, but the head of the Canadian flying folks, Lt. Gen Deschamps is undermining the case for the expensive purchase of F-35's, arguing that their stealthy characteristics will facilitate defense against all threats to Canadian sovereignty, including perhaps the North Koreans or Iranians down the road. 

Um, sure.  Grand strategy is the matching of threats with capabilities and commitments, and it seems that the F35 is a capability poorly matched to the threats if one has to summon North Korea or Iran as the threats to Canadian sovereignty.  Sure, the military is playing to the Conservative government that has played the nationalism card about Arctic Sovereignty, but the big threats to CA sovereignty are the Russians and the Americans.  Buying an American plane is probably not going to help deter the Americans--just a guess.  And the Russians are not going to be deterred by a handful of semi-visible Canadian planes any more than they would be deterred by a handful of completely visible Canadian planes.  The key here is handful.  And Russian.  And guess what?  For the foreseeable future, the US and Canada have a deal where they jointly defend North American air space via NORAD.  So, Canada needs to kick in some capability to keep the US happy about the deal, but that is not a way to sell an expensive plane to the Canadian public. 

The general goes on to talk about how useful such planes are against insurgencies if no drones are around.  Well, duh, as SecDef Gates pointed out to his Air Force (by firing a bunch of folks), you can buy a lot of drones for the price of one manned semi-stealthy fighter.

So, perhaps the real reason is this:
Mr. Lagassé* said. “It doesn’t fit with the threat environment. Let’s be frank: The real value of this aircraft is inter-operability with allies overseas.”
But selling a plane to the CA parliament based on future missions with the US and NATO does not work when one has been hammering away at Canada First.  Even though the best defense of Canada remains its alliance with the US.  Talk about inconvenient truths.

* This dubious Lagassé character is none other than Phillipe Lagassé of U of Ottawa and known to be a fellow traveler of mine. 

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