Senate committee: Canada interim Super Hornet purchase would hinder more than help

Canada should abandon stop-gap purchase of Super Hornet fighters: Senate committee

STEVEN CHASE

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, May 08, 2017 3:47PM EDT

Last updated Monday, May 08, 2017 3:48PM EDT

The Trudeau government is being urged to kill plans to buy Super Hornet fighters as a stop-gap measure for the Royal Canadian Air Force, saying this would be a costly and ineffective workaround.

The Senate national security and defence committee said it makes little sense to buy a second type of plane as a short-term replacement even as Canada is searching for a third model to serve as its long-term replacement fighter.

The Liberals are planning to order 18 Super Hornets to help shore up the military’s fighter capabilities while they hold a competition for a bigger number of war planes to replace Canada’s aged CF-18 Hornets. The Liberals say this is necessary because the air force suffers from a “capability gap” right now where it has too few CF-18s on hand.

Boeing’s Super Hornet planes first entered service in 1999.

The Senate national security and defence committee in a new report, Reinvesting in the Canadian Armed Forces: A Plan for the Future, says the interim Super Hornet purchase would hinder more than help. They cite expert testimony saying that the long-term costs of a stop-gap deal would outweigh any short-term savings, saying the Super Hornets would also hinder Canada’s ability to fly alongside its allies.

Instead, Senators are urging the federal government to hold a quick competition to pick a permanent solution for Canada’s next fighter plane and make a decision by end of June, 2018.

The Senate committee also cited concerns raised by 13 former Royal Canadian Air Force generals about the Super Hornet purchase. The retired generals questioned the “capability gap” raised by the government as the basis for their interim plan and went on to raise technical concerns about the impact of this decision and the need for “new flight simulators, logistic support and maintenance organizations specific to the Super Hornet.”

While the committee urged thrift in the jet purchase, it nevertheless called for a massive increase in overall defence spending. Senators recommended the Liberals enact plans to ramp up defence spending to 2 per cent of Canada’s annual economic output from about 0.88 per cent today.

The report calls for spending to hit this target by 2028 and that would mean ramping up expenditures to nearly $50-billion a year within a decade.

Senators also call for:

  • Increasing Canada’s fighter fleet to 120, up from less than 80 functional CF-18s today.
  • Purchase 12 submarines, up from four operating today, because of rapid changes in the global maritime order including the expansion of Chinese and Russian naval operations.
  • Boost the naval refit plans to fund 18 surface combatant ships, up from the 15 discussed and for which the amount of money allocated is widely deemed insufficient.
  • Build mine sweepers to patrol Canadian waters.

Follow Steven Chase on Twitter: @stevenchase

Original post theglobeandmail.com

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