It looks like the Liberal Government cooked up a new operational requirement for RCAF fighters without bothering to consult the Air Force itself. GOOD FLIPPING GRIEF. Did the government even speak with NATO? Further to this post and “Comments”,
and this article,
Liberal policy forcing need for new jets: RCAF head
Canada needs an interim fleet of fighter jets only because the Liberal government created a policy that increased the number of aircraft that must be available for NORAD and NATO missions at the same time, the head of the Royal Canadian Air Force says.
The Liberals invoked a long-standing “capability gap” last week to justify the sole-source purchase of 18 Boeing Super Hornets, but Lieutenant-General Michael Hood on Monday [Nov. 28] said the need for new jets was caused by the recent policy change.
“Previously … we were comfortable as an armed forces in meeting those [NORAD and NATO commitments] with our extant fleet,” Lt.-Gen. Hood told reporters after appearing at a Senate committee.
“That policy has changed with a requirement to be able to meet both of those concurrently, as opposed to managing them together, thus the requirement to increase the number of fighters available,” he said…
Lt.-Gen. Hood said the previous Conservative government’s plan to buy 65 F-35s would not meet Canada’s new policy in terms of international commitments [but that’s not what the then Chief of the Air Staff said in 2011, see below]…
The general refused for “security reasons” (scroll down here) to put numbers to those commitments. But the numbers, certainly for NORAD, have long been public and the commitments were in place before the Conservatives took office from the Liberals in 2006. A post of mine at Milnet.ca (lots of interesting reaction at the thread):
Serving (!) Air Force major in 2006, pp. 3-4 (just after Conservatives took office, clearly previous Liberal policy):
…In NORAD, the Canadian Forces are committed to provide 36 fighters for air sovereignty and homeland security. In addition to this Canada is committed to provide six or more fighters to the United Nations and/or NATO at any given time, should the need arise…
And in 2011:
The ability to defend the skies and operate overseas at the same time would be in peril if the Harper government buys fewer stealth fighters than planned, the head of the Royal Canadian Air Force said Monday [Dec. 12].
Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps said the air force would have to review how much “concurrent activity” it could handle if the number of radar-evading F-35s drop below the 65 aircraft the government has promised…
“In the end, it’s all about managing risk in delivering the defence mission. The number 65 gives us the capacity to cover all our missions with confidence.”..
It is the smallest fleet the air force is able to live with given its current commitments to North American air defence, which requires at least 36 fighters to be set aside for NORAD missions [not clear if the general himself gave that number].
The initial joint-strike fighter proposal said Canada was prepared to buy 80 aircraft, replacing the current fleet of CF-18s almost one-for-one.
Deschamps said the decision to move to 65 jets was based on a mixture of “affordability” and what numbers the air force believes “it needs to deliver on our numerous defence missions.”..
Plus 2014 (story Aug. 2016):
No fighter jet requirement for NATO: report
Canada is not required to provide a certain number of fighter jets to NATO, says a Defence Department report that’s raising fresh questions about the Liberal government’s rush to buy a new warplane.
The report, published in June 2014 by the research arm of National Defence, says that while Canada supports NATO and contributes aircraft and other military assets when possible, “there is no hard minimum requirement for the NATO commitment.”
That means the only actual requirement Canada must meet in terms of providing fighter jets is its obligation to defend North America along with the U.S.
The government has repeatedly stated in recent months that the military does not have enough CF-18s to both defend North America and fulfil its obligations to NATO. It says that is why a new plane is needed sooner rather than later.
But neither the government nor the Defence Department have said how many jets Canada actually needs, saying that to reveal the numbers would jeopardize national security…
The Defence Research and Development Canada report suggests that a maximum of 36 aircraft are required to be operational at any time to help defend North America, and that “anything beyond this number is in excess of the current requirement.”
Those planes don’t all have to be on high alert waiting for an attack, the report says. Some can be involved in training or NATO operations, and would be called back if required.
Canada currently has 77 CF-18s, but Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has said only about half of them are operational at any given time. The report confirms those numbers, but also says the military can make do with 65 [surprise!] fighter jets…
The jiggery-pokery of the government is a wonder to behold. And this major defence policy change was made without even waiting for the results of its much ballyhooed defence review being in. Open and transparent my tushie. And the Conservatives were just as bad. Help.