Harper sticks taxpayers with billions in overpriced jets

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.

Two stores on this Harper fiasco here, and here.