While Stephen Harper uses attack ads against other parties for allegedly blowing Federal budgets, he tried to reassure Canadians Tuesday that taxpayers won’t get soaked by a rising price tag for 65 stealth fighter-bombers the Conservatives are buying from the Americans. Harper is such a hypocrite.
The Department of National Defence said this week it’s been warned to expect the per-unit price of the F-35 jets might be higher than the $75-million it’s been advertising to Canadians.
A document from a Pentagon cost-analysis unit leaked to Bloomberg News, forecasts lifetime maintenance costs for the F-35s at roughly $375-million per jet.
Calculations by Canadian Press indicate this would lead to a 30 year maintenance bill for Canada of more than $24-billion – far above Ottawa’s estimates and even higher than what Parliamentary budget watchdog Kevin Page recently forecast.
The Department of National Defence forecasts maintenance costs of $7-billion over 20 years but Mr. Page says a 30-year timeline is more realistic and adds that upgrades after two decades will help push the lifetime upkeep costs to $19.5-billion.
For weeks, the Harper government has insisted it will pay around $75-million for each F-35 and furiously rejected criticism from the Parliamentary budget officer, who estimated in March that the sticker price for the radar-evading plane would be more like $148-million apiece.
Alarmed by the uncertainty, the Liberals have promised to cancel the purchase.
The Parliamentary budget officer, in a report just before the Harper government was defeated, pegged service for the F-35 at $19.5-billion over 30 years or roughly $301-million per plane.
Kevin Page faced a storm of criticism from Conservatives in March for suggesting the overall program could cost taxpayers $29.3-billion, but if the new figures from the Pentagon hold, the price tag could go even higher.