“If you went out and bought yourself a new minivan and you wanted to drive it off the lot, you wouldn’t calculate the gas, the washer fluid, the oil and give yourself a salary to drive it for the next 15 or 20 years.”
That was Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s response to Michael Ferguson in April, after the Auditor-General used “life-cycle costs” to calculate the full impact that buying F-35 stealth fighter jets would have on the federal treasury.
But buying an F-35 is nothing like buying a minivan. Nobody buys a new car in the expectation that key components — engine, windshield, electronics — will need to be replaced or upgraded within a few years, while still perfectly functional.
Any F-35 aircraft, serving in any air force in the world, will continuously be upgraded through a series of stages called “blocks.” According to a Lockheed Martin information package posted on the Internet by the Norwegian government, the F-35 fleet will finish its development at the end of Block 7 in mid-2021.