Topic: Canadian Armed Forces
Canadian Defence Budget Costs Mounting Steadily (1968)
Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, Quebec City, 29 November 1968
Washington (CP)—The standard American army rifle in 1946 cost $31. Its modern equivalent costs $150.
That five-fold increase in buying today's simple bread and butter military equipment holds generally true through the vastly more complicated and expensive items in modern arsenals.
It helps explain, officials say here, the protracted nature of Canada's review of military commitments for NATO, for North American defence and elsewhere—as reconciled with other priorities.
Canada has become only a moderate military spender. The Institute of Strategic Studies in London, for example, rates the over-all Canadian defence budget sixth among the 15-country NATO alliance and Canada 12th in the slice of its gross domestic product allocated to defence.
It says nine other NATO countries maintain larger defence establishments.
But the simple maintenance of that status with new weapons to replace those now nearing their useful life will cost Canada tens of millions for aircraft alone at today's steadily-rising prices.
Newer Voodoos Needed
Three squadrons of Voodoo interceptor aircraft, acquired off the shelf from the U.S. for North American defence purposes, will be obsolete in 1973. They could be "stretched out" by swaps for some slightly newer American Voodoos. The U.S. price tag for each plane was $1,800,000.
Canada has six squadrons of CF-104 Starfighters with NATO, manufactured in Canada and also due to be retired in 1973. That price was about $2,000,000 a plane.
The Canadian defence department, mindful perhaps of the ill-fated Avro Arrow abandoned in 1959, recently decided against entering a consortium with European allies to build an all-purpose fighter interceptor aircraft.
Defence Minister Cadieux said 250 planes might have cost Canada as much as $2,000,000,000 over seven to eight years.
The alternative is to buy another off the shelf aircraft from the U.S., or some other supplier, unless the defence review leads to some other solution.
Canada also has 11 Canada-built Yukon and 24 Hercules transport aircraft to replace, not to mention that Canada-built Argus for anti-sub marine work.
Consider Giant Craft
Some consideration has been given to the world's largest aircraft being built by the U.S., the C5A, designed to carry about 700 troops each, or tanks or helicopters.
The U.S. defence department has just announced that the estimated price for each plane has gone up by $10,000,000—to about $35,000,000. It could be higher if labor and material costs, and technical bugs, continue their impact.
A strictly Canadian example of inflation is the four helicopter-carrying destroyers first planned in 1966 and perhaps earmarked for NATO use as Canada's contribution to the NATO response to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The original cost estimate for all four was about $160,000,000 and it now exceeds $220,000,000.
A lengthy list of then and now arms prices was read into one congressional record in October, based on official U.S. list prices, as a warning not to expect any reduction in military spending in the future.
The old B-17 of Second World War fame cost $218,000 and the controversial F-111 fighter-bomber costs $7,000,000. The F-86 Sabre jet fighter used in Korea cost a little less than $300,000—Canada built about 1,800 at an average cost of $355,000—and the F-4 Phantom, the best U.S. plane in Vietnam, costs $2,100,000.
A Second World War submarine came at $4,700,000 and a modern nuclear attack sub costs $77,000,000. The battleship New Jersey cost $108,000,000 to build between 1940 and 1943. To get it out of mothballs, for a belated appearance off Vietnam recently, cost $20,000,000.
An 81 millimetre mortar cost $669 in 1946 and costs $2,430 this year.
Even the cost of a cot, canvas, folding, is up. It cost $6.00 eight years ago and now it costs $15.