Josh Visser‘s National Post article takes a look at the continuing controversy in Canada over the proposed purchase of F-35 fighters. (a href=”http://thedragonstales.blogspot.com”>Will, this is for you.)
A new report is urging the federal government to forego the purchase of the F-35 fighter to replace Canada’s aging CF-18 fleet because its single-engine design is ill-suited to Canada’s north and dangerous to pilots.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’s report, called “One Dead Pilot” and written by UBC political science Michael Byers, says the “decision to purchase a single-engine fighter would almost inevitably result in the needless loss of Canadian pilots,” according to a news release.
In the report, Byers compares the F-35 to the Lockheed Corporation-made CF-104 Starfighter, which Canada operated from 1961 to 1987. Byers writes that while the CF-104 never saw combat, “39 Canadian pilots lost their lives while flying these planes.” Some 110 of the 239 planes were involved in a crash, giving the plane the ominous nickname “Widow Maker.”
Byers notes that 25% of the crashes were due to bird strikes and there not being a second engine to keep the plane in the air. He suggests that little has changed despite technological improvements.
“Engine failures will still occur, and when they do so away from an airport, a second engine is the only thing that can prevent a crash. The issue is especially important for Canada, which has the longest coastline in the world and vast Arctic territories,” Byers writes.