Don’t make F-35 decision a political ’face-saving’ exercise: defence expert

The Harper government is being urged to consider the wider implications of how its new fighter jets will fit into Canada’s defence budget, and avoid making a “politically face-saving” manoeuvre.

OTTAWA — The Harper government is being urged to consider the wider implications of how its new fighter jets will fit into Canada’s defence budget, and avoid making a “politically face-saving” manoeuvre.

As Parliament winds down for the summer, speculation is mounting that a decision is imminent on whether to proceed with the controversial F-35 program or hold an open competition.

A market analysis, one of the key responses to the auditor general’s 2012 criticism of the stealth fighter program, has been completed.

It is not expected to make recommendations to cabinet, but will rather compare the costs and capabilities of each of the four competing aircraft with what Canada needs its warplanes to accomplish.

It will be up to senior officials and ministers to recommend to cabinet which course to take, something multiple sources say has not yet happened.

The F-35 program was put on hold in the months following Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s report, which accused National Defence and Public Works of low-balling the life-time cost and not doing their homework.