Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Ottawa’s fighter-jet estimate ‘all hogwash,’ U.S. watchdog warns

Ottawa’s fighter-jet estimate ‘all hogwash,’ U.S. watchdog warns
The plan to buy F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will cost billions more than the $29-billion estimated by Canada’s budget watchdog, a U.S. defence spending analyst says.

“It’s going to be significantly more. It’s not going to be $1-billion more, it’s going to be significantly more,” said Winslow Wheeler, a defence-spending watchdog with the Washington-based Center for Defense Information.

The $29-billion estimate from Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page put a startling price tag on the cost of a fleet of 65 stealth jets, though the government insists they will cost about half that amount.

But Mr. Wheeler, a former staffer with the U.S. Government Accounting Office and with both Republican and Democratic senators, said even Mr. Page’s estimate – though reasonable now – doesn’t take into account key elements that will make the costs rise: problems with the complex planes that will be inevitably be discovered during testing and the slashing of the number of planes to be produced by the United States and its allies.
Harper is still insisting that the cost of the F-35s will be $15 billion.

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