Canada considering international bases: MacKay
Canada is looking at setting up bases around the world to better position the military to participate in international missions, Defence Minister Peter MacKay confirmed Thursday.
The Canadian Forces does "prudent planning," MacKay told reporters, taking into account the ability to participate in international missions.
There are no plans to set up permanent bases around the world, but the planning happens to ensure Canada has options in case the military needs to deploy from another country, a government source said.
"As we look out into the future what we obviously try to do is anticipate where and when we will be needed, but it's difficult with any certainty to make those plans, without talking to other countries, without doing internal examinations," Mackay said.
"The focus of the planning, let's be clear, is our capability for expeditionary participation in international missions.... We are big players in NATO. We're a country that has become a go-to nation in response to situations like what we're seeing in Libya, what we saw in Haiti...
"We are constantly working within that paradigm of countries, to see where we can bring that niche capability to bear. It's part of planning and preparation, in conjunction with our equipment needs."
A report in Montreal newspaper Le Devoir said the Canadian Forces is negotiating to set up bases under a program known as the Operational Support Hubs Network. They've reportedly already completed negotiations with Germany and Jamaica, and are in talks with Kuwait, Senegal, Kenya or Tanzania, Singapore and South Korea.
Canada did have a base in the United Arab Emirates, known as Camp Mirage, to ease access to Afghanistan, but was kicked out after a dispute over commercial landing rights in Canada.
The Canadian Forces had to scramble to set up an alternative base in Cyprus. They also use a base in Germany for staging.
MacKay also said Thursday he believes that Canada will receive the first of its new F-35 fighter jets as scheduled in 2016, despite reports that manufacturer Lockheed Martin is saying it can't meet this country's delivery date. "That's the date we're banking on, that's the information we've been given by the company," he said.
There's also controversy over the cost of the stealth fighters, which the government pegs at $9 billion. But others say the cost could exceed $30 billion.