I am all in favour of having a strong military but I wonder whether the $25 billion Canada plans to spend on 65 F-35s is the best use of our money. That's $384 million each plane and $700 per Canadian and more per Canadian taxpayer. And the price will keep going up because other countries are starting to reduce the number they are buying. Now, even the Americans are questioning whether it's optimum. The F-35 is designed to be smarter than a likely enemy – but Canada has mostly been fighting terrorists and patrolling the arctic! What radar are we wanting to avoid? The F-35 range is also limited (around 1300km radius) and the radios don't work in the far north.
According to the Economist, American Admiral Jonathan Greenert, U.S. chief of naval operations, says that Military procurement is too focused on building ever-costlier new ships and aircraft of complex design, with built-in capabilities to meet specific threats. Instead of procurement being "platform-centric", he wants it to be "payload-centric": highly adaptable platforms able to carry weapons and sensors that can be added or removed, depending on the mission or on technological progress. Further, because it can take 15 years from inception to deployment, the technology in the latest plane is outclassed by the latest cellphone.
Instead of building a highly sophisticated plane that is mostly not needed – and in fact whose sophistication may never be needed – why not plan on planes that can attack from a distance – out of reach of any radar. They could launch cruise missiles or a fleet of drones! And instead of spending on stealth technology which may not work against a sophisticated foe, use electronic-warfare devices to confuse or jam the other side's sensors, rather than trying to hide from them.
I would think Canada needs transport planes, long range attack planes, surveillance planes, helicopters and a fleet of drones – not F-35s. From the money saved, buy a full sized icebreaker for arctic patrol.