Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Why do we need jets at all ?

A brief examination of Canada’s supersonic prerequisites 

With the recent announcement from Defence Minister Harjit Sajaan stating that, Canada still needs to replace its aging CF-18 multirole fighters, many such as myself who keep an eye on defence policy, are left saying, no shit. 

However this got me thinking back to my days of studying international defence policy, and i began to wonder, do Canadian’s know why we must keep a squadron a fighter jets at all ? I will go into a bit more detail, but it basically comes down to two major points: Firstly, if we didn’t have some sort of supersonic jets with the ability to patrol the high arctic, the USA would take over the roll and without the blink of an eye and Canadian airspace would be populated with a plethora of F-22 raptors, F-35 lightings or whatever was available, all flying american roundels. The second point is that whichever Canadian politician doesn't buy new jets and de-facto cedes sovereignty of our airspace to the Americans will most certainly lose their job.

Like most Canadians, I don’t like the idea of our friendly southern neighbours running wild in our precious airspace, but if i’m critical, I can’t come up with a whole lot of reasons why. After all the Royal Canadian Navy is borrowing its resupply capacity from Chile and the West coast, and Spain on the Atlantic side. Its not like Canada has undertaken a lot of unilateral military action lately (or really ever for that matter) we flew out of various NATO bases during our engagements in Libya, Syria, and any other middle eastern military engagement. This means that as an armed forces we are constantly relying on logistics that aren’t 100% ours, supply lines we didn't control, and in the case of marine resupply, even foreign vessels providing a service within Canadian territory. 
A member of the Royal Canadian Navy watched over Protecteur before it left CFB Esquimalt Wednesday.
(Canada's last domestic resupply ship, and a RCN Officer
presumably confused as to why the ship is being
towed from Vancouver to Nova Scotia only to be destroyed)

Let me ask my initial question again, why do we still need new jets? If we admit Canada rarely, if ever takes unilateral military action, and that we already let foreign navies take over specific roles within sovereign territory, why is this supersonic northern defence so important. After all, the threat we’re talking about here is soviet aggression( read:ICBM) coming into America over the poles… and because we’re in the way, us too. If you read the previous statement and said, “huh, that doesn’t seem like a salient issue” you would be right. Why then is Canada, the eternal military pragmatists - we’re the ones foresaw the quagmire of Iraq among other oraclaculr predictions after all - running expensive jets in a role other nations could do better, to unilaterally patrol the Arctic (unilateral action being far from our norm) from a threat that largely doesn't exist. Well, it has a lot to do with ego, and the Colorado Rockies.

(This emblem showing the shared nature of the Centre
 [with American spelling though] with a glimpse
of Russia, and a hint at the operations conducted)
See, Canada has for quite some time been highly involved with a small branch of the American Defence infrastructure called the North American Aerospace Defence Command - or NORAD. NORAD is the body responsible for monitoring north american airspace for airborne threats, and responding to them appropriately. I most cases where we partner with the States, the partnership is 90% them and 10% us, NORAD is somewhat of an exception wherein Canada and the USA taken turns having the top job, and therefore making the tough calls. This was illustrated gravely on September 11th 2001 when a Canadian became the most important military official in America after terrorists hijacked several planes in American airspace. The command to ground all american air traffic on September 11th, was made by a Canadian national, look it up. Now when the US found this out they were pissed, as mad as we get about our sovereignty, is nothing compared to how the americans feel. It’s basically how they were founded. For every iota of american anger over the fact that some Cannuck had been in charge during the worst terrorist attack ever on american soil, there was an equal amount of ego swelling in Ottawa. Nothing swells our ego like taking over for America. One only has to look at how much we still brag about the League of Nations - a basically american creation - that caused WWII - yet because the US never joined its one of Canada’s diplomatic high points. 

So what point am I beating around at the moment? 

Fine i’ll come out an say it: Canada has no need for a multirole fighter aircraft. The reasons we want to buy them is so politicians can make sure they aren’t the ones who cede sovereign airspace ending their careers. We buy them because we have this ego where we need to keep up with the USA, we have this ego that allows us to think we deserve to be involved. Well fact check: militaries don’t at unilaterally anymore - Canada is no exception, we constantly relay on other nations to cover gaps in our capabilities essentially ceding sovereignty if we look at it like that, the only reason we want to spend billions on supersonic multirole fighters is the ego of being in the club - being a parterre in NORAD that sort of thing. It would not be out of character for us to cede this task to someone else, and why shouldn't we ? We don’t have the budget for these hard assets anymore. Canada has said we want to focus one military training and advising, i’m not sure how well a CF-18 multirole fighter advises, probably not much worse than an F-35, but i’d wager it still isn’t as well as a human being does. These jets are counter to our current objectives, they are something we don’t need, and the reason we are going to be paying off superfluous military hardware for decades to come ? Ego. 

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