Vanguard Magazine

Oct/Nov 2014

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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Page 17 of 47

Resolving Canada's fighteR jet dilemma U UNmANNED SYSTEMS 18 OCTOBER/nOVEMBER 2014 ways, it merely reinforced many of the issues that Canada's major media outlets had been reporting on since 2010. However, the most arresting feature of the article was how it artfully identified drones and missiles as useful counter-points to expensive "next- generation" combat aircraft. This is an important line of inquiry in light of the Harper government's lingering F-35 procurement dilemma. Much has been written on the JSF's myriad shortcomings – in- cluding discrepancies over its lifecycle costs, limited range, ability to function properly under conditions of reduced visibility and temperature, and overall suitability as a reliable fighter intercep- tor. We could elaborate considerably on these deficiencies and possibly even identify some new ones, but we wouldn't be add- ing anything substantive to the existing debate. The point of this piece is to illustrate a set of defensive alternatives that better con- form to Canada's fiscal reality and might even render an invest- ment in a new fleet of 60-70 combat aircraft as unnecessary. With this in mind, we think that Ottawa should consider the following as a way to contain costs and meet Canada's immedi- ate air defence and operational needs: 1) commit to a substantial fleet of combat and surveillance UAVs; 2) invest in air denial sys- tems – linked and reinforced by satellites and early warning radar; 3) invest in supersonic and long-range subsonic ballistic missiles; and 4) integrate a small number of next generation fighters – if deemed appropriate by a defence review – into a pan-national air defence system to protect the country's territorial integrity. Contextualizing and identifying Canada's most pressing secu- rity needs appears to be the first casualty where discussions over Dr. Jason Lacharite is an assistant Professor in the depart- ment of Political Science at the University of northern British Columbia. Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret'd) Richard Lacharite served for 38 years in the Canadian armed Forces, including as a staff officer at naTO headquarters in Brussels and SaCLanT in norfolk, Virginia. Are drones and missiles the answer? o ttawa appears committed to purchasing (medium range) fifth generation fighter aircraft to defend Canadian sovereignty and to contribute to overseas operations in a support capacity. However, in the absence of a genuine defence review – and one that explicitly identifies conventional and non-conventional threats to Canada's national security – it is difficult to comprehend what they would be used for. The global security environment – marked increasingly by cy- ber-espionage, natural disasters, transnational crime, terrorism, and biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons proliferation – has changed significantly since Ottawa last issued a Defence White Paper in 1994. Does the military need a new inventory of 60-70 combat aircraft to defend Canadian airspace, arctic sovereignty, and to function operationally in the Middle East, South America, or Africa? Probably not, but what other options does the Harper government have at its disposal? We suggest that Canada's air defence and operational needs would be much better served by investing in unmanned aerial ve- hicles (UAVs) – drones – and a more robust "sky guard" network. This policy alternative seems to be more sensible and cost effec- tive and would meet most of Canada's current (albeit limited) national defence requirements. In July 2011, The Economist published an instructive piece – "The last manned fighter" – on the cost, efficacy, and future of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). In some

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