Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Warplane shopping

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Canada needs a new jet to replace its fleet of CF-18s that are due to be retired in eight years and the only question is which warplane the government will select and at what price.

Until last week, it looked as if the F-35 would be the replacement, but skyrocketing costs and political problems caused by a lack of transparency in revealing the full 40-year cost of acquiring and maintaining 65 jets have forced the Conservatives back to the drawing board.

The government is now looking at a range of possibilities, including the F-18 Superhornet, an advanced version of the jet now in service.

The Tories were criticized for not disclosing the full life-cycle costs of the F-35, which include salaries for pilots and technicians, hangars, infrastructure, uniforms, training and a long list of other fixed costs that will have to be carried, regardless of which airplane is selected.

To simplify matters for taxpayers, Ottawa should provide a breakdown of the life costs for each of the jets under consideration, which will make it easier to grasp the cost of purchasing one product over another.

But price is only one factor. Ultimately, the government and Canadians will have to decide if they are willing to pay for the greater safety and effectiveness of the F-35, or settle for a more affordable, if conventional, warplane like the Hornet.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 10, 2012 A10

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