F-35 costs at least $10-billion higher than Ottawa estimates, expert says
OTTAWA — Globe and Mail Update (Includes Correction)
Published Tuesday, Apr. 29, 2014 2:36PM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, Apr. 29, 2014 7:58PM EDT
Canada has failed to disclose the full costs of buying controversial stealth fighters, a new independent report says, warning that the true price tag is at least $10-billion higher for a total of $56-billion.
Under the worst-case scenario, the report by University of British Columbia academic Michael Byers predicts, the full lifetime bill for F-35 Lightning jets would hit $126-billion – about $81-billion higher than Ottawa’s working estimate of $45.8-billion.
The analysis, titled The Plane that Ate the Canadian Military, drew a swift rejoinder from F-35 maker Lockheed Martin Tuesday. It said there are gross inaccuracies in Mr. Byers’s work and the calculations are based on “out-of-date” cost information.
“That’s not in line with any economic estimate that anyone has going forward,” Steve O’Bryan, Lockheed’s vice-president for F-35 business development, said of the report.
Mr. Byers, who holds Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at UBC, said Ottawa is lowballing the cost of purchasing and operating 65 F-35 jets over three decades.
In the report for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Rideau Institute, he said the full bill for buying, operating and maintaining the planes is at least $56-billion and not the $45.8-billion the government has already acknowledged because its bleeding-edge technology is still under development.
“The Harper government has also failed to acknowledge the considerable cost risks and uncertainty associated with a fleet of F-35s – risks that are amplified by the developmental character and the unusually high operating and sustainment costs of these particular aircraft,” Mr. Byers said.
He warned that the F-35 could end up gobbling up significant portions of the military’s budget over the next three decades.
“An additional $81-billion in unplanned cost could destroy the Canadian military, which would be forced to carry most of that cost through reduced expenditures on other equipment, maintenance, infrastructure, salaries and training. Even the ‘moderate’ [case] scenario, which carries an additional $45-billion in unplanned cost, would have profoundly negative, across-the-board impacts on the men and women who serve.”
Two years ago, Ottawa vowed to start from scratch after it received a damning audit of its plans for the sole-sourced purchase of F-35 fighter jets, promising to scour the world market for rival jets.
Today, however, Ottawa is considering two main options for its plans to commit $45-billion to controversial new fighter jets – and both point back to the Lockheed Martin F-35 as the clear front-runner, sources said.
Government and outside sources said the process is nearing completion, and the government is facing two main options: continue with its sole-source plans to buy a fleet of 65 F-35 Lighting IIs, or launch a competition that, based on technical and financial data obtained by the government, would lead to the selection of the same aircraft.https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/when-building-gazebos-violates-the-public-trust/article582792/
When building gazebos violates the public trust
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Jun. 09, 2011 7:30PM EDT
Last updated Friday, Aug. 24, 2012 3:55PM EDT
Misled. The Auditor-General report's may not use the word, but that's what the federal government did to Parliament, and therefore to Canadians, by spending $50-million of public money in the Muskoka region of Ontario for the 2010 G8 summit, and calling it "investments in infrastructure to reduce border congestion." Governments always play fiscal shell games, so why be moved to outrage this time?
First, even by standards of the cynic, the process was brazenly irregular. Muskoka is hundreds of kilometres from any border - a conveniently available existing line item was used as cover for the unrelated spending. There was no documentation around the choice of the 32 projects, which included new logistics centres that performed no G8-related logistics, new runways for airports where no G8-related planes landed, and gazebos and other goodies of marginal connection to the G8, all in Tony Clement's riding.
Second, it put good public administration at the mercy of politics. Some modest tweaking of any kind of government spending for political gain is to be expected. But professional public servants ought, at least, to be at the table, to bring some rigour to the process. Instead, they were absent. The report does little to dispel a picture of Mr. Clement and then-infrastructure minister John Baird, two experienced ministers who should have known better, sitting down together, alone, to pick projects.
Third, think of the findings not just retrospectively, but prospectively. This is the government that wants to cut $11-billion in program spending over four years. It has set up a formal strategic review, but will it act with self-discipline to make sure that the G8 infrastructure spending process does not repeat itself? And is it going to make spending truly transparent, or will it still empower itself to move around tens of millions of dollars at the stroke of a pen, with no disclosure?
Finally, until the Auditor-General came along, the government's other watchdogs had fallen asleep. The government is right on one point: This whole affair was hidden in plain sight. The $50-million program was announced in February, 2009, and the offending mislabeling of parliamentary appropriations took place in November, 2009. By following the money (and seeing where the trail stopped), a diligent MP could have sounded the alarm.
This is an opportunity for a reform of government policies around spending oversight and disclosure. The government's reputation for fiscal prudence depends on such a reform.
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Editorial: Ask questions about Canada’s submarines
MAY 21, 2016 12:37 AM
Canada’s four submarines could be called floating money pits — except they don’t float that much. They spend more time being repaired than they do sailing, and now two of them are headed for drydock for the better part of a year so faulty welding can be fixed.
This is the latest of the problems that have plagued the subs since Canada bought them secondhand from the U.K. in 1998. That purchase has turned out to be a financial and operational disaster.
It’s time to ask some hard questions: Do we need these costly vessels? Can we afford them? At what point do we stop pouring money into repairs?
HMCS Victoria and its sister, HMCS Chicoutimi, will be docked at Victoria for several months because several hundred welds need to be inspected, and repaired if necessary, before the submarines can return to the open sea.
Being docked is what the subs do best. Put into service from 1990 to 1993, the four Upholder submarines were decommissioned in 1994, as the U.K. decided to go with an all-nuclear submarine fleet. They sat in the saltwater until 1998, when Canada bought them to replace its aging Oberon submarines, naming them after Canadian cities — Victoria, Chicoutimi, Windsor and Corner Brook. They became known as Victoria-class submarines.
Victoria was commissioned by the Canadian Navy in December 2000, the first of the four vessels to go into service, but it wasn’t declared fully operational until 2012. All of the subs have been plagued with problems, spending vastly more time being repaired and maintained they spend moving about in the water. The original purchase price of $750 million has been exceeded by subsequent costs.
The challenge with a secondhand flivver is trying to determine how much fixing up to do — it just keeps costing more and more money to keep it going, and after you have spent all that money, you still have an old jalopy.
That’s a glib comparison — a submarine is a vastly complex vessel, and maintenance is constant, even for new submarines.
But these are not new submarines, and they weren’t in good shape to start with.
“It was apparent from the start that the submarines were flawed,” wrote defence analysts Michael Byer and Stewart Webb in the Times Colonist in 2013. “Initially, the British experienced problems with the diesel engines, which were designed for railroad locomotives and not the rapid stops and starts required of submarines. They also struggled with defects in the torpedo-tube slide valves that are supposed to prevent the inner torpedo doors from opening while the outer doors are ajar.
“The British decommissioned the submarines in 1994 and just tied them up to a wharf. There, they languished in salt water for four years awaiting a buyer, and another two to six years before Canada took possession of them. During this time, the submarines suffered serious corrosion, to the point where the diving depth of HMCS Windsor remains restricted to this day.”
That doesn’t mean the subs have been useless — they have been used to help curtail the international drug trade and with other operations the Navy has been involved in. But the cost has been high.
Should they be replaced? Australia intends to build 12 new French-designed diesel-electric submarines at a total cost of $43 billion US. If Canada followed that example, it would, at least, be a boon for the domestic shipbuilding industry, but at a heavy cost to the national budget.
But we have learned, over the past eight years, that submarines are not an essential element in the Navy. It fulfilled its role without them, and we should question the need to keep spending billions on these costly vessels.https://www.durhamregion.com/news-story/7374715-liberals-to-sink-more-money-into-navy-s-subs/
Liberals to sink more money into navy's subs
NEWS Jun 16, 2017
OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is planning to spend billions more on the navy's four wayward submarines to keep them operating into the 2030s.
The plan to extend the lives of the troubled vessels is included in the Liberals' new defence policy and comes following calls from senior naval officers to save the controversial ships from the scrap heap.
The actual price of the plan was not revealed in the policy document, which was released to much fanfare last week, and National Defence refused to provide a price tag following multiple requests.
That is despite assertions from the Liberal government that the defence policy was fully costed and following promises of full transparency when it came to the overall plan.
"Detailed costing will be provided in the Defence Investment Plan to be published in due course," National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said in an email.
Defence sources, however, have told The Canadian Press that keeping the submarines in the water for another decade will cost upwards of $2.5 billion.
Without upgrades, the first of the submarines will reach the end of its life in 2022, according to documents obtained last year through Access to Information, with the last retired in 2027.
Some have questioned the wisdom of spending more money on the four vessels, which have been plagued with problems since Canada bought them used from Britain in 1998.
While the Chretien government said at the time that it was getting a bargain by paying only $750 million, the ships have required constant repairs and upgrades just to make them seaworthy for a limited time.
And while a number of experts have called for Canada look to purchase new submarines, rather than upgrading the ones it has, others have said the country doesn't need such expensive vessels.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan this week emphasized the Liberal government's view, previously expressed by senior naval officials, that subs are necessary for protecting Canada's security and sovereignty.
"No other platform in the Canadian Armed Forces can do what a submarine can do," Sajjan said during an event in Halifax on Monday.
"No other platform has the stealth, the intelligence-gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance capability and the deterrence to potential adversaries that a sub does."
Sajjan added that the government decided upgrading the existing subs — HMCS Chicoutimi, Victoria, Corner Brook and Windsor — was more "prudent" than purchasing new vessels.
The Liberals promised in their defence policy to invest an additional $62 billion in the military over the next 20 years, which includes increasing annual defence spending by 70 per cent over the next decade.
A large chunk of that new money will end up going towards replacing the navy's 12 frigates and three recently retired destroyers with 15 new warships at a cost of between $56 billion and $60 billion.
Previous estimates had pegged the cost of those vessels at $26 billion.
The four submarines continue to generate headlines for the wrong reasons, with the most recent Thursday when HMCS Chicoutimi was hit by another naval vessel while docked at CFB Esquimalt in B.C.
But Rob Huebert, an expert on maritime security at the University of Calgary, said the other three have been involved in a variety of tasks and mission in recent months — even if most Canadians don't realize it.
"The very nature of what they do means that (the military) can't talk about it," he said.
"They're actually exceeding what the navy was expecting them to do in terms of time at sea, interdiction of drugs and co-operation with the Americans. You can't talk about any of that, but it is occurring."
Rather than extend the lives of the submarines, Huebert said he would have liked to see the government start looking for replacements, but that wasn't possible given the huge costs of replacing the frigates.
"What we saw was the defence review was an intelligent decision to do what was necessary to lengthen the life of the subs while making sure the (new warships) are built," he said.
- Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter.
By Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Justin Trudeau offers strongest defence yet of Omar Khadr settlement at Calgary Stampede
Published on: July 15, 2017 | Last Updated: July 15, 2017 6:11 PM MDT
Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau during his visit to the 2017 Calgary Stampede. AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA
Justin Trudeau offered his strongest defence yet of his government’s $10.5-million settlement with Omar Khadr on Saturday, saying he hopes it serves as an example to future governments.
“When governments violate Canadians’ fundamental rights, there have to be consequences and we hope that the message going forward to all future governments is: you can not ignore or be complicit in the violation of Canadians fundamental rights, regardless of what they did,” said Trudeau.
The prime minister spoke at the Indian Village on the Calgary Stampede grounds, initially reiterating what he’s been saying for the past few days: he understands why people are frustrated but he thinks the government would have lost the case to Khadr if they had fought in court, and it would have cost between $30-40 million in the process. Trudeau then went on to offer the more strident human rights defence.
Trudeau spent the day in Calgary, attending two pancake breakfasts in the morning before visiting the Indian Village in the afternoon and rounding off the day at the rodeo.
He’s faced widespread criticism over the past few days over the Khadr payment. Khadr fought against coalition forces in Afghanistan as a 15 year old, before being sent to Guantanamo Bay where he was repeatedly tortured.
The prime minister initially wasn’t planning on coming to Stampede this year due to a scheduling conflict with the United States’ National Governors Association conference in Rhode Island. However, he managed to get to all his meetings at the conference, including a sit-down with vice-president Mike Pence, scheduled for Friday, freeing him up to spend time in Calgary on Saturday.
The prime minister largely had a friendly reception in the city, although he spent most of his time in solid Liberal territory.
Trudeau started the day by meeting Mayor Naheed Nenshi. Neither the mayor nor the prime minister took any questions from the press.
Next he went to the Marda Loop Communities Association Stampede breakfast with Liberal Calgary Centre MP and Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr. The prime minister was greeted by a little girl in a pink cowboy hat, whose cast he signed and a little boy who got him to sign a copy of the Marvel Civil War comic book in which Trudeau appears on the cover as part of the Canadian super hero team Alpha Fight.
Trudeau declined to weigh in on the decision of interim NDP leader Tom Mulcair and the candidates running for the federal NDP leadership, to skip Stampede, simply saying: “I’m not going to comment on decisions that other political parties make.”
He said that several people teased him about his failure to mention Alberta during a Canada Day speech, but they were generally understanding of his explanation that it was a honest mistake.