Thursday, 28 February 2013

A Couple More Problems in Military Procurement

By coincidence, the CBC News site today has two articles on problems in military procurement in Canada. The first is "Boeing touts fighter jet to rival F-35." It rounds up Boeing's attempt to sell F-18 "Super Hornets" to nations, including Canada, that had initially ordered F-35's. Despite its name, the Super Hornet is a substantially different plane than the original Hornet that serves Canada now: larger, with more range, slower landing speed, bigger wings...and the list goes on. According to the article, Boeing is arguing that the Super Hornet is better suited to Northern conditions, half the purchase price of an F-35, half the operating price, and available now. The article adds
CBC News contacted the European manufacturers of the Typhoon — also known as the Eurofighter — as well as Dassault, the French maker of the Rafale, and Sweden's Saab, which makes the Gripen. All said they've been contacted by the Canadian government and were ready to make their pitches.

But it's Boeing's entry that will grab most attention. It's the only American competitor for the F-35, and being "interoperable" with the U.S. is a big deal for Canada. Boeing is also offering to meet or beat the amount of contracts — known as "industrial benefits" — that Lockheed Martin would steer to Canadian companies.

With billions at stake, this battle of the giants will be worth watching.
The other article is "Military supply ships $1.5B over budget, watchdog says." The "watchdog" is the parliamentary budget officer, Kevin Page, who reports that the two replenishment ships the government wants will cost $4.13 billion, not the $2.6 billion that was budgeted. The revised number includes a probable cost of $3.2 billion and almost $900 million for contingencies, given that Canadian shipyards have not built such ships in the last 45 years. The ships will be more expensive and less capable than they would have been if the government had not scrapped the plans that were in place and started over.

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