A new report, entitled Smart Defence: A plan for rebuilding Canada’s military, has just been released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
The study, by University of British Columbia Professor Michael Byers, identifies more than $10 billion in potential savings in spending on military equipment.
At the same time, the study identifies ways to increase capabilities in Arctic and coastal surveillance, search and rescue, disaster and humanitarian relief, and peacekeeping.
“There are two big problems with defence procurement in Canada,” says Byers. “One is mismanagement, including new layers of bureaucracy introduced by the Harper government. The other is overreach, which occurs when officials grasp at the latest, unproven technologies – such as the F-35 Strike Fighter – which carry huge cost risks and uncertainties.”
The study recommends cancelling the planned purchase of 65 F-35 Strike Fighters and acquiring 30-40 new F/A-18 Super Hornets – the latest version of the CF-18 – to extend Canada’s current fighter jet capability for another two decades.
“Piloted fighter jets could soon be rendered obsolete by unmanned drones capable of air-to-air combat,” says Byers. “Instead of blowing the defence budget on a fleet of unproven, hyper-expensive F-35s that could soon become outdated, we should be looking for a lower-risk, lower-cost alternative.”
The study calls for “Smart Defence”: a more objective and reasoned approach to defence procurement that is based on Canada’s actual needs, proven off-the-shelf technologies, and the elimination of cost risks and uncertainties.
“A full public review of defence and national security policy is urgently needed. This report provides essential analysis for that effort as well as guidance on immediate steps that need to be taken, in the meantime”, said Rideau Institute president, Peggy Mason.
Read the full report here: Rebuilding Canada’s Military
Watch the full press conference here: “Smart Defence” Press Conference
See Amanda Connolly’s article for iPolitics on the report here: Rideau Institute report: Harper allowing military to ‘rust out’, (iPolitics, 29 June 2015).