More on F-35 costs

David Pugliese compares the Harper government’s estimate for the purchase and maintenance costs of the 65 F-35s it intends to purchase to the estimates made by the Japanese and Norwegian governments, which are also planning to purchase F-35s (“Wide-range of F-35 costs depending on the government doing the talking,” Defence Watch, Ottawa Citizen blog, 15 January 2012):

The Japanese Defense Ministry has told journalists in that country that the total cost for the 42 aircraft [that Japan plans to buy] and 20 years maintenance will be $20.8 billion U.S.

That is interesting to compare to the Conservative government/DND’s cost estimate of $14.7 billion for 65 aircraft and 20 years maintenance support. DND, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino have all insisted that maintenance costs for the F-35 won’t exceed the $250 million annual cost for the fleet of CF-18s.

And then there is Norway’s recent admission about its costs for 52 F-35s. Norwegian defence officials told our Commons defence committee that Norway is paying $10 billion U.S. for its aircraft purchase and initial setup and another $40 billion U.S. for 30 years lifecycle and maintenance costs. (This created a mini-storm of protest in Norway after that country’s media picked up on news stories on the issue in Canada).

Canada, Japan and Norway are all buying the same model F-35.

Maybe our austerity-obsessed government is basing its estimate on the idea that Peter MacKay and Co. are going to be a whole lot better than those other guys at squeezing out every last bit of value from the dollars they spend on the military.

Exhibit A for that idea: The Department of National Defence recently managed to renovate Deputy Minister of National Defence Robert Fonberg’s offices for a mere $375,000 — $4,000 less than originally projected (“DND defends $375K office renovation,” CBC News, 17 January 2012):

[An] internal briefing note, which indicated the work would cost about $379,000, stated the renovation would “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the deputy minister’s office.”

A DND spokesperson corrected the total saying the department worked with Public Works to save about $4,000 by using existing furniture.

That ought to pay for at least one or two F-35 bolts.

Tags: Canadian Forces, Defence lobby, Defence spending, F-35, Joint Strike Fighter, Military spending