12 November 2005

Chinooks, Hercs and some Italian bird

As the Globe and Mail reports, the federal cabinet will decide this Monday on a proposal from National Defence to spend $12 billion to purchase new helicopters and aircraft for the Canadian Forces.

Comparisons of the purchase to the sponsorship scandal, attributed to unnamed defence industry spokespersons amount to little more than an effort to derail a process that wouldn't include their particular aircraft.

As reported here earlier, the purchase includes Chinooks and new versions of the C-130 Hercules.

A new Italian turboprop is favoured to replace the Buffalo as a search and rescue aircraft.

An unnamed industry insider singled out chief of defence staff General Rick Hillier for criticism, alleging the hurried purchase is driven by Hillier's charismatic personality and forceful manner.

Add the Bond Papers to the defence commentators who consider this sort of comment little more than cheap shots.

Hillier has experience and is exercising sound judgment. The equipment recommended not just by Hillier but by the professional military and air staffs can do the job and can be acquired off-the-shelf at a decent price.

The same cannot be said of past purchases such as the LSVW, more commonly known as the p.o.s. or the Griffons. These politically-inspired purchases stand as examples of buying military equipment based on where the industrial (and vote) benefits go as opposed to getting and aircraft or vehicle that can do the job required. Anyone who wishes to question my assessment can instead head off to the Auditor General and find out what the AG said.

People in the defence industry shouldn't fling about sponsorship-like accusations given the defence procurement record in this country.

[This post also available from Politics Canada.]