This tidbit of defense procurement news comes via Noah at DangerRoom:
OTTAWA — The F-35 jet fighter purchase, the most persistent thorn in the federal government’s side and the subject of a devastating auditor-general’s report last spring, is dead.
Faced with the imminent release of an audit by accountants KPMG that will push the total projected life-cycle costs of the aircraft above $30 billion, the operations committee of the federal Cabinet decided to scrap the controversial sole-source program and go back to the drawing board, a source familiar with the decision said.
This occurred after Chief of the Defence Staff Thomas Lawson, while en route overseas, was called back urgently to appear before the committee, the source said.
The decision is sure to have ripple effects around the world, as any reduction in the number of aircraft on order causes the price to go up for all the other buyers. Canada is one of nine F-35 consortium members, including the United States.
I’d guess there is a reasonable chance that if the unit cost rises then the UK, which is facing the strong prospect of a triple-dip recession, will no longer be able to afford to buy either. Then again, the UK has invested much bipartisan political capital in its next-generation aircraft carriers and there are few alternatives to the F-35 for those. Typhoon ‘s navalized version uses a ski-jump to launch and according to the defense chiefs is already not advanced enough to be a solution. Neither is the Rafale, which in any case would be a domestic political disaster even if the French would chortle like mad. Still the UK government will now doubtless push for Canada to adopt the Typhoon as its alternative instead of the Rafale or the Super Hornet – which might give it a little influx of money, but nowhere near enough to meet the extra costs of its own F-35 purchases.
Meanwhile, there’s next to zero chance the US will cancel the F-35 program itself, or its own planned purchases of what will be the most expensive fighter aircraft in history. That means that US taxpayers are the ones who will bear the brunt of the rise in price of the Pentagon’s “flying piano”, which as it is will gobble up 38% of Pentagon procurement and alone will cost more than China’s entire defense budget for a decade.
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