Canada may not train F-35 pilots on its own soil

According to the internal air force documents, Canadian fighter pilots selected to fly the new F-35 could find themselves trained by either the Americans or a private contractor.

Internal air force memos from the fall of 2010 lay out the “potential for NO pilot training in Canada.”A separate briefing in April 2010 says the F-35 fleet size is “constrained” by cost and other factors.

The staggering multibillion-dollar purchase price means the government can only afford 65 of the multi-role stealth fighters. The number (Canada currently has 79 aging CF-18s) stretches the ability of the air force to meet its commitments, says a series of briefings given to the air force chief last year.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay has said 65 F-35 fighters are more than enough to meet Canada’s needs, but the briefing raises questions about that because the air force must keep 36 fighters on standby for North American air defence and another dozen for training.

The spring 2010 assessment, written before the government announced its intention to purchase the F-35 jets, suggested the air force “optimize operational capability by not employing (a) portion of the fleet for training.”

The presentations rank training with either the U.S. Air Force – or a contracted “fee-for-service” approach – as better than doing it in Canada. Under the proposal, pilots would continue to receive their initial qualification in the country, but go elsewhere for advanced training.

“The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is currently reviewing available options and will choose the option that best meets the needs of Canada’s future fighter pilot training,” said Evan Koronewski in an email response.

Source: CTV News


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