Former DM: No fighters needed

Nix F-35

A former deputy minister of National Defence is calling on the Harper government to abandon its purchase of a new fleet of fighter jets and revise Canada’s entire defence posture (Charles Nixon, “Canada does not need fighter jets, period,” Globe and Mail, 8 July 2013).

“Canada does not need fighter aircraft,” says Charles “Buzz” Nixon, Canada’s deputy minister of National Defence from 1975 until 1983.

Fighter jets will neither help Canada’s military missions abroad, nor secure Canadians at home, Nixon argues.

New Canadian fighters would almost certainly never be involved in serious strike or aerial combat operations and are not required to protect Canada’s populace or sovereignty. They would only be of symbolic assistance (such as Canada currently is doing in Eastern Europe via NATO) and could provide support of ground forces in low-combat hostilities, which could be had more effectively and at lower cost by other types of aircraft.

“The only credible foreseeable future situation where that could pertain would be a highly improbable war between the United States and China,” Nixon writes. Even then, he argues, “it is difficult if not impossible to concoct a credible scenario which would merit Canada providing [5th-generation fighter] aircraft.”

Nixon calls on the government to focus on the kinds of activities the Canadian Forces are likely to undertake in the future:

Fighters simply cannot contribute anything substantial toward the achievement of the six Canadian defence objectives. The best course for the Harper government would be to defer any further decisions on military equipment procurement pending a thorough rethink about Canada’s defence posture.

A rethink should start with a study, analysis and assessment of the foreseeable state and trends of the world and the action of the major nations. It would then be possible, with the perspective such a study should provide, to specify the roles that the Canadian Forces may be called upon to discharge, and therefore indicate the size, organization and equipment that the Forces – land, sea and air – should have for the 21st century. The result would be a report more substantial and specific than the weak and specious out-of-date Canada First Defence Strategy.

Earlier this year the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published a report showing that the cost of the F-35 could end up consuming a huge part of Canada’s military budget. You can get a free copy of The Plane that Ate the Canadian Military here.

Photo credit: Ceasefire.ca

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