Thursday, 26 April 2012



 Right now, at least in theory, we have a lot of leverage; we could go to Boeing or Eurofighter and argue that they need to make us a great deal to make it worth our while to not buy F-35’s to replace our aging CF-18’s. Our government has done an excellent job of convincing the world that we could never contemplate any other aircraft. Fighter aircraft manufacturers around the world have always been concerned about the influence of the F-35 program. Designed to be the fighter plane to end all other fighter planes Lockheed-Martin hoped to control the market for at least a generation. Given that dominance other manufacturers are motivated to go to great lengths to secure contracts. However, things are changing rapidly, and none of the news is good for Lockheed-Martin. Examples;

“Workers at Lockheed’s F-35 Plant Prepared for a Long Strike
Reuters is reporting that unionized workers on strike against Lockheed Martin Corp over health care benefits and pensions are prepared for a long work stoppage, a top union official said on Tuesday.
More from their report:
Nearly 3,650 union workers walked off the job on Monday at the Fort Worth, Texas, plant where Lockheed builds the new F-35 fighter plane and at two military bases where it is tested.
Paul Black, president of the local chapter of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), said three earlier strikes in 1984, 2000 and 2003 lasted from two to three weeks, but union leaders warned workers that the current dispute — focused on healthcare benefits and pensions — could take longer to settle. The last strike before those was in 1946.”
“Another three-year slip to initial operational test and evaluation, the culmination of system development and demonstration, which now is due to be complete in 2019 – the target date is February but the threshold date is October.
  The program has not made progress, it’s gone backwards: completion of IOT&E is farther off than it was two years ago. In the early 2010 restructuring, IOT&E was expected to be complete in April 2016. The services are not going to announce initial operational capability dates until next year, according to the SAR”
“Retired colonel Paul Maillet, an aerospace engineer and former CF-18 fleet manager, said the F-35 does not meet the needs of the government’s Canada First Defence Strategy, a key pillar of which is Arctic sovereignty.
“How do you get a single engine, low-range, low-payload, low-maneuverability aircraft that is being optimized for close air support . . . to operate effectively in the North?” he asked.
Maillet called the F-35“serious strategic mismatch” to Canada’s military needs, and suggested the Royal Canadian Air Force would be better off purchasing a fleet of F-18 E/F fighters.” 

The hits just keep on coming and with every hit the manufacturers of other jet fighters have fewer reasons to think that they need to make a special deal with Canada to get our business. The Department of National Defence is notoriously ponderous in its acquisition strategies and it remains to be seen if they can summon the appropriate nimbleness to capitalize on our existing bargaining position. We can only hope that if they take long enough that we loose all the leverage we currently enjoy with the producers of non-F35’s we may actually gain some with Lockheed-Martin as the prospect of F-35 sales dwindle and L-M is forced to make concessions. Not likely, but we can hope.