A new report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, titled “One Dead Pilot,” warns that the F-35, the U.S. built next-generation fighter plane with a nearly $1 trillion price tag, is too unreliable for use by the Canadian military.
The report, written by Michael Byers, who holds the Canada Research Chair in global politics at the University of British Columbia, insists that the F-35’s single-engine design would pose unacceptable risks for Canadian pilots.
“Engine failures will occur, and when they do so away from an airport, a second engine is the only thing that can prevent a crash,” Byers wrote in his report.
Canada has the longest coastline in the world and vast Arctic territories. If an F-35 suffered engine failure in these environments, it’s unclear what a Canadian pilot’s backup plan would be. A pilot would likely only have a few hours to live after ejection into the Arctic environment.
Byers compares the F-35 to the single-engine CF-104 Starfighter, which Canada used from 1961 to 1987. During that time, 110 Starfighters crashed. A quarter of those accidents were due to bird strikes — and the fact that there was no secondary engine to keep the plane aloft.
Altogether, Byers insists that “purchasing a single-engine fighter jet would be a serious mistake.”
However, Byers does not have any issues with other countries purchasing the F-35. The U.S., he notes, has a significantly higher density of airports than Canada which would allow a greater likelihood of an F-35 being able to perform an emergency landing.
Canada is expected to make a final decision as to whether or not to purchase the F-35 this week.
Byer’s full report is below.
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