#CBC: « Federal auditor basic to dive into contentious fighter-jet ‘functionality hole’  » #Toronto #Montreal #Calgary #Ottawa #Canada

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Canada’s auditor basic has began to dig into one of many Trudeau authorities’s most contentious claims, upon which rests the destiny of lots of of thousands and thousands of taxpayer {dollars}: that the nation is going through an pressing scarcity of fighter jets.

The declare was first made in November 2016 when the Liberals introduced that Canada did not have sufficient fighter jets to defend North America and concurrently meet the nation’s NATO commitments, and {that a} stopgap was urgently wanted till all the CF-18 fleet could possibly be changed.

The authorities initially deliberate to purchase 18 interim Super Hornets from Boeing for $6.four billion earlier than the deal was scuttled late final 12 months in favour of shopping for 25 used jets from Australia for $500 million.

But critics, together with opposition events and former air pressure commanders, accuse the federal government of fabricating an pressing « capability gap » — because the shortfall is understood — by altering the navy’s necessities to keep away from having to purchase the F-35 stealth fighter.

Auditor basic Michael Ferguson is now scrutinizing this « capability gap » as a part of an general fighter-jet overview, in line with an inner memo written by officers on the federal procurement division and obtained by The Canadian Press by entry to data laws.

The memo to Public Services and Procurement Canada deputy minister Marie Lemay references a gathering with Ferguson’s employees in December through which they laid out the targets of their audit.

Those included plans to « examine the current and expected fighter-jet capability gap; and to look at how the RCAF plans to maintain its readiness levels to meet Canada’s obligations as it transitions to a new fighter fleet. »

An hooked up presentation added that the audit was necessary to guarantee the Defence Department was assembly its mandate to guard Canadians and allied nations.

It additionally deliberate to delve into the influence of extending the lives of Canada’s 76 CF-18s, that are practically 40 years outdated, and the price of sustaining and working a fighter fleet.

Interim Super Hornets

Ferguson’s spokeswoman, Celine Bissonnette, would solely say the overview is ongoing and the outcomes are scheduled to be tabled in Parliament within the fall.

Four years in the past, Ferguson launched a scathing report on the F-35 that derailed the Harper authorities’s plan to purchase the stealth fighter with out a competitors.

The Liberals tried to show the report back to their political benefit, vowing within the 2015 election that they might not purchase the F-35.

In November 2016, the federal government introduced it could take its time with a contest to switch the CF-18s, and would purchase 18 « interim » Super Hornets with out a competitors as a result of the nation wanted extra fighter jets on an pressing foundation.

Trouble brewing?

Critics pointed to testimony by then-Royal Canadian Air Force commander lieutenant-general Michael Hood the earlier spring through which he stated Canada did have sufficient fighter jets as proof a functionality hole didn’t exist and the Liberals have been simply attempting to keep away from a contest with the F-35.

Hood testified shortly after the Super Hornet announcement {that a} change to longstanding coverage by the Liberals in September 2016 had required the air pressure to begin assembly its obligations to North American defence and NATO on the identical time, which had created a scarcity of planes.

The key query might be whether or not the auditor basic finds the Liberals broke federal procurement guidelines to fulfil the political promise to not purchase the F-35, or stacked the deck in favour of the Super Hornet, stated former air pressure commander Andre Deschamps.

Deschamps is certainly one of 13 former air pressure commanders who wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in February 2017 that questioned the coverage change and referred to as for an instantaneous competitors to switch the CF-18s slightly than buying interim Super Hornets.

« If they can make a connection between political interference in the process, » Deschamps stated in an interview, « then there’s bigger trouble brewing. »

Note: « Previously Published on: 2018-07-26 18:00:50, as ‘Federal auditor basic to dive into contentious fighter-jet ‘functionality hole’

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