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NEWS: Harper’s $18 billion procurement of fighter jets and maintenance contract

CBC reports that, “The Canadian government said Friday it plans to spend $9 billion to purchase a new generation of (65) fighter jets, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (built by the US company Lockheed Martin).”

“The contract, one of the biggest military equipment purchases in Canadian history, is worth $9 billion, but the full cost could rise to as much $18 billion once the government signs a (20-year) maintenance contract.”

“The government is (now) fending off criticism that it is making one of the biggest military purchases in Canadian history without a single competing bid.”

“The Liberals want the (House of Commons defence) committee to question other potential bidders and procurement experts to determine whether a sole-sourced contract gives maximum value to the government and taxpayers.”

The Globe and Mail adds that Defence Minister Peter MacKay “had assured Parliament there would be a competitive process for the selection of new planes, but cabinet decided to go with an untendered contract.”

Other recent closed bid expenditures have included the purchase of 17 C-130J Hercules transport planes (also made by Lockheed Martin), as well as a $282-million purchase of six Chinook CH-47D battlefield helicopters made by the US-company Boeing.

Military analyst Mercedes Stephenson defended the decision saying the jets are fast, needed and “When you are dealing with the Arctic, there is very little that has the kind of survivability of a fighter jet in the air under those kinds of harsh conditions.”

QUESTIONS
While there are countless other better ways to spend $18 billion for the public good, we must also ask:

– is the discovery of significant oil and gas deposits in the Arctic related to the purchase of these war planes?

– given the European Union’s focus on government procurement contracts in the CETA talks, what do they make of this pattern of untendered military spending given their own military weapons industry?

– though military spending tends to be excluded from trade agreements, given the European Union’s focus on government procurement contracts in the CETA talks, what do they make of this pattern of untendered spending given their own military weapons industry?

The full article is at http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2010/07/16/canada-jets.html.