Looks like new fighter jets will have to dodge politics, not missiles

Justin Trudeau’s government said aircraft suppliers can’t “harm Canadian economy”

OPINION By Stu Salkeld The Stettler Independent

The Canadian government discussed last week purchasing “a fleet” of 88 new fighters within the next 10 years, plus immediate purchase of old F-18s from Australia. Canada already uses a version of the diminutive F-18 Hornet, which was originally designed as a carrier-based fighter.

When it comes to acquiring decent military gear for our women and men in the armed forces, our fearless leader should spend less time pandering to eastern voters and more time finding the most advanced technology for the best price. Relying on fourth generation technology, developed in the 1970s in the waning days of the Cold War, is a recipe for disaster.

Trudeau’s government shows an eager willingness to let politics overrule military wisdom, as feds said the fine print on these 88 new fighters will include how that particular supplier affects the Canadian economy (for example, if you’re American company Boeing and you like to file grievances against, say for example, Canadian perennial corporate welfare candidate Bombardier, that’s bad according to Trudeau). Disappointing, considering our fearless leader, nose angled highly in the air, last week made comments deriding “populist” politicians; that is, politicians who are solely concerned with getting re-elected.

The jets that Justin acquires will face two old adversaries over the next 50 or so years, Russia and China. Both have shown a willingness recently (Russia in Ukraine and Crimea, China in South China Sea) to extend their international influence at the expense of the west. As Russia has shown, some of these old adversaries don’t have a problem with violence either.

Depending on whom you ask, the Chinese will field old, fourth-generation fighters like the J-10 and J-11 that match up well against archaic designs like the famous F-15 and F-16. However, the Chinese are also said to have an advanced fighter in the pipe, the J-20. It looks amazingly like the aircraft from the Clint Eastwood movie “Firefox” and has been flown at certain official ceremonies but no one was allowed to get near it. If you believe what experts say about this thing, it could be one of the most advanced fighters in the world. If it actually enters service.

Plus, as military hardware expert Justin Bronk recently pointed out, the West may know more than expected about the J-20 because it’s possible much of the jet was stolen from the United States, Great Britain and Germany through espionage. “We don’t know how much (American) technology the Chinese have managed to steal,” Bronk recently said. If the J-20 exists and it’s ready to go in 2018, F-18 Hornets stand no chance against this monster.

Canadian jets could very well face off against other old enemy, Russia. Russia still fields SU-27, MIG-29, and SU-35s from the fourth generation of fighters. Dangerous jets but still based on 1970s level technology.

But Russia is also said to possess the ubiquitous Sukhoi T-50/SU-57, which some military pundits group with the J-20 above: if it really exists, it could kick some serious butt. It’s a true fifth generation air superiority fighter, including some stealth capability and thrust vectoring.

Other nations generally considered possible enemies, including North Korea and Iran, for example, field aged Cold War jet designs like the MIG-21 that even the F-18 could deftly handle.

But if the day comes in the next 50 years when Canadians have to face Russia or China in angry skies, one hopes the decision to purchase a fleet of 88 modern air superiority fighters was based on the proper facts, and not essentially so Justin Trudeau could get more votes from suburban Ontario.

Stu Salkeld is the editor of the Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.

Just Posted

Conservation group encourages people to leave their leaves on the ground

Fall is here and so is that dreaded chore — or is it?

Stettler Jazz Guys to perform at Spruce Meadows

The Jazz Guys have taken their love for jazz music and transformed it into a tight musical unit

Flu shots available in Alberta this month

Influenza immunization is free to all Albertans over five years of age

Stettler Variety Showcase presents Donny Lee on Nov. 2nd

Check out a dinner show packed with hits and energy

Lacombe Chamber hosts election forum at LMC

LPC, CPC, PPC and NDP battle for Red Deer-Lacombe votes

No holiday for campaigning leaders on Thanksgiving weekend, but pace slows

There is a little over a week to go before election day, and advanced polls are now open

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

PHOTOS: Kipchoge becomes first runner to dip under 2 hours for marathon

Olympic champion and world record holder from Kenya clocks 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds

Mourners gather for slain teenager’s funeral in Hamilton, Ont.

Devan Bracci-Selvey’s obituary says he also had ‘a loving heart for animals’

1/3 of Canadian men won’t share their feelings for fear of being ‘unmanly’: report

Fifty-nine per cent of men said society expects them to be ‘emotionally strong and not show weakness’

Dog owners have reduced risk of dying from heart problems, says researcher

Researchers analyzed data on more than 3.8 million people taken from 10 studies

Winterhawks ice Rebels 5-0

Rebels take on Medicine Hat on the road Saturday night

Yukon declares climate emergency

Territory joins nearly 500 federal, provincial and municipal governments to do so in the last year

Most Read