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F35: the cup overflows in the land of maple?

(credit: Lockheed Martin/JSF)

(BRUXELLES2) Has the limit been reached in Canada? Anyway, reading the National Post, Friday, the impression appears clear. According to the Canadian daily, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's entourage is ready to throw in the towel after learning of a KPMG audit. And the coming days could be crucial for the future of the country's participation in the American new combat aircraft program

Cost: $46 billion over 42 years

KMPG consultants now estimate the cost of the program at nearly 46 billion Canadian dollars (36 million euros) for 65 planes over the life of the aircraft (42 years). That is twice the budget provided by the Ministry of Defence. Acquisition costs are identical at $8,9 billion. But it is the support costs that switch: from 7,3 billion to 15,2 billion $ and the operational costs which go from 9 to 19,9 billion $. The difference is in fact also explained by the duration taken into account: 20 years only in the estimate of the Ministry of Defense, 42 years in the estimate of KPMG. Reduced to the price per year, we arrive at an amount of $1 billion per year.

A (small) chance for the Rafale or the Eurofighter?

« There is no other solution today than to reset (reboot) » the file, comments the Prime Minister's entourage, subject to strong pressure from the opposition. And therefore to reopen an international competition to replace the good old CF-18 which is reaching the end of its life and could not exceed 2020, even with an update. According to the Canadian daily, the following would then be on the track: three European planes - Dassault's Rafale, Saab's Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon - two American planes - Boeing's Super Hornet and Lockheed-Martin's F-35. The Chief of Staff, Thomas Lawson, also recognized that the F-35 was not the only modern aircraft with such capabilities.

The limits of industrial blackmail

If Canada defaults, the consequence could be immediately translatable in terms of an increase in the cost of the device (+15%). And this could above all have a negative knock-on effect: we are thinking particularly of the Netherlands (where the government has initiated a more comprehensive evaluation process*). There is a possible risk for the Canadian industry. But they can be reduced according to commentators. The $375 million that the Canadian industry benefits from could be kept because they occupy specific technological niches. And other manufacturers are also ready to allow local manufacturers to benefit from such benefits.

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).