Fighter deployment a mistake

November 26, 2015   ·   0 Comments

Caring Canadian Like Mr. Hoy (“We should be prepared to step up,” 19 November), I believe Canada is implicitly obliged to support our allies in defeating ISIL. Unlike him, I believe deployment of six CF-18 fighters was a mistake. Those fighters are supported by one refuelling aircraft and two surveillance aircraft. They are also aided by a ground crew of around – at a guess – 200 personnel. That’s assuming that base administration (accommodation, laundry, kitchens, air traffic control, etc) is provided by someone else – USAF, perhaps.

I would estimate a cost of about $50,000 per fighter sortie – that’s one aircraft taking off, whether it completes the mission or not. Because one estimate is that about one-third of sorties result in an attack on a ground target, that means each successful attack costs around $150,000. Other bills raise the total cost higher. Guide bombs are very expensive. Pilots are the highest paid servicemen in Canada, and receive additional “danger” pay when engaged in combat.

Doubtless Canadian fighter pilots are as competent as any allied pilots. Nonetheless, their six aircraft are a small and complicating element amid the hundreds of aircraft that the USAF and France deployed. Their cost per attack is not justified; they are inefficient.

The same cost for an Army element – say, one battalion group supported by Artillery and support elements (Engineers, Medical, Signals, Logistics) would make a big difference to the ground war. Canadian soldiers are not quitters; ground they seize stays seized, and assaults are their specialty. Supported by Special Operations personnel to provide Intelligence and early warning, they will be highly regarded by both friend and foe. But six aircraft can’t be.

Charles Hooker
East Garafraxa, ON

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