I must perforce return to the debate over the F-35, the little airplane that might...bankrupt the country if things go ahead. Now Boeing has announced that their Super Hornet, an aircraft that can indeed meet most of our needs, is half the price. Not just to buy, but to maintain. Of course, it is not the newest toy on the block, for the Super Hornet is not stealth. Dear me. Just who are we going to fight where we need stealth anyway? In other ways, the Hornet and F-35 are matched rather well with both having some plus points and some negative. Still, that issue of the cost is a major one.
Now, arctic patrols, assuming we wish to retain control of the Northwest Passage (a claim that the United States - for one - does not recognize).
Technology has given us the drone. Some drones can stay in the air not just for hours but for days. So if we wish to see whats out there, a slightly modified new drone seems to provide a cheap way to do so. While the Harper government announced a base in the North with great fanfare, that seems to have stalled for surface ships. The same location might - but need not - be cheaper to use as a control station for a fleet of drones to patrol our waterways. Having found something out there, the next issue is how we do anything about it. Well, a drone station might house a few Hornets for a quick response and an airstrip in the western Arctic might provide the full coverage needed. Still not up to the price of purchasing the 60 to 70 F-35s, but reasonable if this is what we need to do. The Hornet also has two engines - a need that we long ago (remember the Arrow?) decided was a good idea when ground temperatures go well below zero.
Willow C. Arune