9/25/12 by Murray Brewster
Defence planners are examining a proposition that would see Canada run an advanced multi-national training course for the F-35 if the contentious stealth fighter program gets the go-ahead from the Harper government, industry sources say.
Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, a sprawling, isolated air force facility in northern Alberta, would serve as a training school for pilots already qualified on the aircraft to learn to use the plane’s weapons systems.
The airfield is already home to an air-to-ground weapons school for the country’s current fleet of CF-18s, but the proposition would see Canada transition to the F-35 and open up instruction to other countries that are part of the program.
“So this allows Canada to run a graduate level training centre, which brings resources into Canada, which brings countries in to fly; that brings revenue and a whole bunch of other things and capabilities that are augmented by these countries who don’t have this kind of airspace,” said a defence source with knowledge of the scenario.
No plans are finalized yet, but I know (Canada’s Department of National Defence) knows what they have. The question is, what are they going to do?”
The fact that Cold Lake is situated in the middle of vast plain well inside Canadian airspace makes it attractive to defence planners and industry types who are eager to preserve the multi-role fighter’s more secret capabilities, said the source.
“If you’re a stealth airplane you’ve got to ask yourself, do you want to be fully stealth and show everybody your capabilities over water where people can measure that?” said the source, who spoke on condition of not being named.
“The only places you can do that is when you have a controlled space.”
Excerpt from the original article