F-35 Stealth Fighter Purchase a ‘Pilot Error’: Report

October 14, 2010

OTTAWA—The planned purchase of 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets is the result of a ‘pilot error’ by the Canadian government, says a new report published today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The report, called Pilot Error: Why the F-35 stealth fighter is wrong for Canada, concludes that the purchase of 65 stealth fighter jets is not based upon Canada’s realistic requirements.

“This is a massive commitment of defence spending on ‘flying Cadillacs’ that is being driven by defence contractors, not by a clear-eyed view of Canada’s defence needs,” says Steven Staples, author of the report and President of the Rideau Insitute.

“Defending and controlling Canadian and North American airspace doesn’t require purchasing high-end first strike stealth fighters,” added Staples, suggesting that the expeditionary role of Canada’s fighters should be phased out.

The report carefully examines all of Canada’s current and future security requirements and addresses specific claimed benefits of the F-35. It finds that the F-35 Stealth Fighter has no real comparable advantage over less-costly fighter jets other than offering stealth technology and “shock and awe” capabilities.

“Canada has only deployed fighters twice in the last 30 years, and CF-18s were not needed at all in the almost decade-long war in Afghanistan. What’s more, Canada’s small stealth fighter contribution to any allied expeditionary efforts in the future would be marginal at best,” says Staples.

Instead of purchasing the F35, the report recommends the government:

  • Curtail the expeditionary role for Canadian fighter aircraft.
  • Stretch the life of Canada's existing CF-18 fleet by restricting the aircraft to the North American/domestic air surveillance and control role.
  • Investigate the acquisition of the next generation of unarmed long-range, long-endurance pilotless aircraft.
  • Use the money saved by the above measures to contribute to Canadian and global security in more effective ways.


Pilot Error: Why the F-35 stealth fighter is wrong for Canada is available on the CCPA website: http://policyalternatives.ca

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.