Free fighter jets – to a good home
When we invested $6.5 million in Top Aces last year, part of our security package involved taking a charge over several French/German Alpha Jet fighter jets. 1984 vintage. As they’d been purchased from a USA broker, the U.S. State Department and Dept. of Homeland Security required us to register as an “arms dealer” before we could take security on the tails and Top Aces could import them to Canada. (Makes you wonder if your name pops up on a special list when you cross the border, doesn’t it? Adnan Khashoggi, Lord of War)
This came to mind today when I read the NYT piece about Pakistan receiving free F-16s. It seems that the U.S. DOD gives away used military equipment to friendly nations at an annual military flea market.
The story also suggested that Canada and Australia had benefited from the program; although I did read that we paid $2 billion to the U.K. gov’t to buy those Upholder Class diesel subs. Maybe we should’ve held out for a free used U.S. Los Angeles class nuke attack sub…but I digress.
What Top Aces is doing for the Canadian military will be the norm ten years from now. Rather than spend $30k an hour to have CF-18s fly from Alberta to New Brunswick to train Forward Air Controllers on their way to Afganistan, DND awarded Top Aces a three year $93 million contract to provide equipment, pilots and training support for the 3 branches. Train CF-18 pilots in ECM, ship gunners in surface to air warfare, and ground troops in close air support.
As military establishments spend the next ten years doing more than they’ve been asked to do during the prior 10, this type of private sector role is going to become much more prevalant. In this regard, Canada is at the leading edge. And Top Aces has already opened shop at a mothballed air base in Upstate New York to begin plying their unique offering to the world’s largest consumer of defence equipment.
Watch these guys.