Mark Twain attributed British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli with saying “there are lies, damned lies and statistics.” The F-35 boondoggle has all three …
The Harper Government is digging itself deeper into the money pit that the F-35 has become. Never mind their fiscal deficit; they’ve got a growing truth deficit.
First they told us the planes would cost only $9 or 10 billion. Then they said $15 or 16 billion and they stuck to that one right through the election even though the figure they gave to Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, in March 2011 was nearly $18 billion.
Oh well, what’s a billion dollars here or there in an election, eh?
Then, when the Auditor General raised an eyebrow (and a whole lot
of questions) in March of this year, the Department of National Defence said: Oh, by the way, we didn’t count the cost of keeping the F-35 in the air – you know little things; like pilots and gas.
Peter MacKay, who should know – after all he’s the Minister in charge – confirmed this by saying the Government had the “real” figure all along. Just add 10 billion to the 15 billion dollar cost of acquiring the jets and Bob’s your uncle.
Oh, and by the way, said Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino, pay no attention to Norway’s Rear Admiral Roksund. He told the Standing Committee on Defence that Norway is planning to pay, for acquiring and operating the same plane, exactly double the Harper Government’s $25 billion estimate.
In early April 2012, at the Summit of the Americas, Mr Harper himself dug the hole a little deeper. He said that the figures his Government used publicly were only for the acquisition of the F-35s.
“Other numbers cited, obviously have to do not just with the acquisition of the F-35, but operations of the F-35. In terms of our numbers,” the PM said, “I’ve been very clear.”
Problem is, none of this is true. The government’s estimates are still absurdly low. The DND confessed to Mr Page they couldn’t provide a rationale for the figures they gave him. And the government’s own figures for the cost of the plane – made public in the Budget Officer’s report before the election – include both acquisition and operations.
It’s all right there on page 10 of Kevin Page’s report. Cost of acquisition? $6 billion. Cost of operating and support? $9 billion. Cost of misleading the public during an election? Priceless.
© David McLaren April 2012.
From the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s Report on the F-35,
March 10, 2011
Cost estimates from any source, including the PBO, should be seen in the context of the methodology employed, the available data, and the desired confidence interval. The PBO sought clarification from DND on the methodology employed, the data, and the desired confidence interval that form the basis of the government’s costing figures. DND confirmed that such analysis has not yet been undertaken. (page 9)
In response to the PBO’s question as to the constituent elements of DND’s acquisition cost of US$ 9 billion, DND responded that it was to include research, development, testing and evaluation [RDT&E]. (footnote page 22)
RDT&E poses a significant risk and may increase the cost Canada pays. The RDT&E phase is yet to be completed, and with low rate production started, there remains significant risk of costs increases. Between 2001 and 2009, there have been growth figures of 40% for RDT&E and 54% for production.72 It is yet unclear how these costs will be distributed among purchasers. (page 36)