Wings Magazine

New report questions validity of F-35 decision

June 9, 2014, Ottawa - The federal government is being urged to reconsider its expected decision to buy a fleet of F-35 fighters. This time the argument isn’t about cost or procurement problems, it's about what's inside the plane.

June 9, 2014  By CBC News

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report by Michael Byers this morning in Ottawa.

Entitled "One Dead Pilot," the report argues that fighter aircraft
with a single engine — as the F-35 has — are too dangerous and
unreliable to be used by the Canadian military.


"This issue is especially important for Canada, which has the longest
coastline in the world and vast Arctic territories," writes Byers.


In the report, Byers compares the F-35 to the single-engine CF-104
Starfighter, which the Canadian air force used from the 1960s to 1987
and which was involved in 110 crashes in that time.


A quarter of those crashes were attributed to bird strikes and the
fact there was no secondary engine to allow the plane to keep flying.


Byers is the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and
International Law and the University of British Columbia and also a
former NDP candidate.


"Engine failures will still occur, and when they do so away from an
airport, a second engine is the only thing that can prevent a crash,"
Byers concludes.


"The need for a twin-engine fighter jet is very clear, and purchasing
a single-engine fighter jet would be a serious mistake," he said.


The government is expected to make a final decision on the replacement for the CF-18 as early as this week.


Although Byers says the F-35 is not the plane for Canada, he has no issues with other countries opting for the strike-fighter.


As an example, he notes the U.S. has a much higher density of
airports on its territory — providing greater options for emergency
landing in the event of engine failure.


Byers also says the U.S. has "hedged its bets," by having in its air force fleet the twin-engine F-22.


"The United States bases many of its F-22s in Alaska," he adds. "The
F-35s will not be based in Alaska because a single-engine plane is
inappropriate for the Arctic — the United States Air Force has decided


Byers says the Royal Canadian Air Force has studied the F-35
carefully, and may very well have examined the issue of single-engine
versus twin — but the RCAF isn’t making its report public.


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