The Department of National Defence is attempting to deflect criticism by putting the best possible spin on news from the the U.S. Pentagon that the Americans will not share the sophisticated codes that program the new F-35 jet interceptor.
The Canadian government has invested half-a-billion dollars in the development of the F-35, "Lightning II", so-called Joint Strike Fighter, which made two maiden flights shrouded in secrecy at the Patuxet River (Maryland), Naval Air Station 10 days ago.
Canada is one of eight NATO members that have put-up a partner's share of the development costs of the jet fighter which is being built by Lockheed-Martin at the company's fabled California "Skunkworks". The partners have now been told by the Pentagon, in no uncertain terms, that "no country" will be given access to the software codes that program the aircraft's sophisticated electronic systems. Critics claim that without the codes, any participating or purchasing partner will require American involvement in maintaining and/or upgrading the future needs of the F-35. So incensed are the British that the U.K.'s air force has threatened to cancel its order for 138 of the jet fighters.
Canada has been looking at spending more than $10-billion to buy the fighter beginning in 2017 to replace our ageing fleet of the American (McDonald-Douglas) built CF-18 "Hornet". It appears that in order to deflect any criticism back home, National Defence has trotted-out a charm offensive over our significant joint involvement and sharing of resources with the Americans in NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defence Command. It just so happens that NORAD is currently undergoing a review of its resources which, since the end of the Cold-War, are more appropriately aimed at protecting major cities from attacks by terrorists. A Canadian, Major-General Pierre Forgues, is in charge of this review as Director of Operations for NORAD. He's now apparently been tasked with making the media rounds to tout our involvement in the protection of the continent.
The scenario playing-out over the development of the F-35 "Joint Strike Fighter" all sounds too familiar. Half a century ago the U.S. Government of President Dwight Eisenhower torpedoed the Canadian developed CF-105 Avro "Arrow" because it was superior to any aircraft the Americans then had in their fleet or in development, and they did not want that to occur. We were subsequently sold 75 used CF-101 "Voodoos" by the U.S. Air Force. The half-dozen "Arrows" build were cut-up for scrap and Canada lost the best and brightest brains of the world's aerospace sector. They emigrated to the United-States where they became the backbone of the Apollo "moonwalk" program a dozen years later.