Hawkish on new jets for the Snowbirds
It's high time the Snowbirds got new jets.
A Snowbird pilot managed to eject safely from his jet, just seconds before it crashed into a rural field in the northern Ontario city of Thunder Bay on Wednesday.
The Department of National Defence said Capt. Andy Mackay, Snowbird 8, was released from hospital after being treated for undisclosed injuries.
Maj. Ian McLean said he was told in a brief phone conversation with Mackay that the downed plane experienced a loss of engine thrust.
Experience has shown us that at some point, the law of diminishing returns kicks in with older aircraft. I'm not the first person to suggest it, but the CT-155 Hawk appears to be perfectly suited as a replacement. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be a priority:
Even if the Snowbirds survive the budget cuts, they'll still be flying obsolete aircraft for the next several years. In December 2002, Col. Dave Burt, the officer in charge of buying new aircraft for the Canadian Forces, said he's in no hurry to replace the Tutors and said they'll be able to fly safely until 2020.
In 2003, a military study recommended replacing the Snowbirds' Tutor jets with the British Aerospace Hawk T1. The Canadian Forces currently uses the Hawk as its advanced training jet at CFB Moose Jaw. The Red Arrows, the British demonstration flying team, also use the Hawk.
Here's a suggestion for Bill Graham, gratis: start thinking creatively about ways to find the money for new planes. Make the case for sharing the capital costs of the Hawks through the Department of Canadian Heritage as a cultural icon, as an international Canadian symbol, and pitch it to Cabinet. The reality is that the Snowbirds provide far more value as a cultural symbol than they do as a military unit, and it's not unreasonable to expect they be funded accordingly.
Then slap some red and white paint on ten Hawks, and mothball the Tutors. The quicker, the better.