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Joint Strike Fighter Signing Ceremony

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
February 07, 2002 2:00 PM EDT

(Joint Strike Fighter Signing Ceremony. Also participating: Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge, Jr and his Canadian counterpart Assistant Deputy Minister for Materiel, Canadian Department of National Defense Alan Williams.)

Voice: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have a great honor today and great privilege to introduce two men here who have had and will continue to have a very profound impact on the JSF program. As a matter of fact these two men here today completed the negotiations for what has brought us all here today.

First, Mr. Allen Williams from the Canadian Department of National Defense is the Assistant Deputy Minister for Materiel. He has been a tremendous advocate for the program in Canada and it's his energy and vision that advanced the program throughout the government of Canada to allow this event here today.

And secondly, Mr. Pete Aldridge, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics who also has the same keen energy and vision that he applied as well to bring this program today where we are here, and it's his keen interest in the program, to include the international aspects, that has also brought us here today.

It's fitting that these two men both sign the binding agreement that they both helped shape. Mr. Aldridge, sir, the floor is yours.

Aldridge: Well, good afternoon everyone. It is an honor to be here for the next milestone of the Joint Strike Fighter since October 26th. We kicked the program off at that time and did the down select and it's been a rapid paced program ever since.

As you now, the United States is developing a family of aircraft for the Air Force, the Navy, and the Marine Corps, and we welcome Canada as a member of the international family helping in the development of this program.

Canada has been part of the program since 1998 and has decided to join us in the UK for an additional ten years as we develop and demonstrate the Joint Strike Fighter program.

We in the United States government treasure our relationship with our northern neighbor and I consider Allen, of course, to be a very personal friend of mine. This is yet another example of our cooperative relationship across so many different programs and activities.

Our cooperation effort on Joint Strike Fighter will reinforce a longstanding and close relationship between our two countries and will serve to strengthen the interoperability at our industrial base.

But the relationship obviously extends beyond just our governments, and I'm impressed with the high level of industrial participation such as companies like Lockheed Martin, certainly Vance, Ms. Kaufman, I appreciate seeing you here, Pratt & Whitney, Northrop Grumman, and General Electric, and they're probably all in the audience somewhere. I see that at this point in time the Navy is the acquisition executive, and Gordon England, we're glad to have you here today with John Young who is the Acquisition Executive of the Navy.

So it's nice to have everybody as partners on this program.

As you know, we are all working closely with the Canadian industry to ensure that there is ample opportunity for them to join in this international effort and I know we will succeed as a result of this international cooperation both in the government and among the industry.

The Joint Strike Fighter is setting new standards for technological advances. They're also rewriting the books on acquisition and business practices as well as taking advantage of recent export licensing initiatives. This is truly a marriage between governments and industry and we look forward to a very successful partnership for many years to come.

Thank you.

(Applause)

(Signing)

Williams: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you Pete for your earlier remarks.

I too really value our personal friendship and the opportunity we have had over the last many months to work together on a number of issues. I look forward to building on this personal relationship in the future.

It's with great pleasure that I formally announce today Canada's participation with the United States and Great Britain in the systems development and demonstration phase of the Joint Strike Fighter program. Canada's decision to participate in the JSF program is yet another clear demonstration of the Canadian government's continuing commitment to North American security and industrial cooperation.

Participation in this internationally oriented technologically advanced program will assist us in our efforts to enhance interoperability with the U.S. and allies and provide us with a unique window into the leading edge technologies being developed for this world class weapon system.

In addition, Canadian industry will have an opportunity to provide its expertise to this important program. Through its ability to make a value-added contribution and its highly competitive position, Canadian industry will assist the U.S. prime contractors in their efforts to deliver a technologically advanced but affordable aircraft to the U.S. Department of Defense and allies.

In closing let me reiterate again how pleased I am to be working both with Pete Aldridge and Sir Robert Wolmsley on this important, innovative and forward-looking defense program.

Thank you very much.

(Applause)

Q: -- realistic costing, you guys added some money this year, I believe, or '03 to JSF because you felt it was underfunded. Give us a sense of the funding situation through the FYDP [Future Years Defense Plan].

Voice: First of all I'd like to introduce the Secretary of Defense, Don Rumsfeld.

(Laughter and applause)

Rumsfeld: I'm delighted you're all here. I think it's terrific that this partnership is moving forward so well. I've had an all-Canadian week. I was just yesterday up on the Hill and met with the members of the, I suppose it's called something like Armed Services Committee, from Canada. Then this morning I came in the door with you and haven't a chance to say hello.

So we're very pleased. We think this is an important effort, and as always, we're delighted to be doing it and working together with our friends from Canada.

Where are you in your program here?

Voice: We are the end, answering questions. (Laughter)

Rumsfeld: You signed things?

Voice: We have signed things --

Rumsfeld: Your answering questions, and there's no questions yet to be asked.

Voice: They were asking the first one.

Q: Can I ask --

(Laughter)

Rumsfeld: He knows the answer to everything.

Q: Maybe Mr. Secretary will want to comment on this.

The President just announced the status of the detainees of the Taliban would be considered under Geneva Convention, al Qaeda would not. Does this obviate the need for the three man tribunal talked about in the Geneva Convention for the disposition of the prisoners? And how will this affect, if in any way, the treatment or the interrogation of the prisoners?

Aldridge: I have not the slightest idea how to answer that question. (Laughter)

Rumsfeld: Maybe I'll respond.

The United States has from the outset, is today and will in the future be treating the detainees in a manner that is humane and is consistent with the Geneva Conventions. That has been the case, it is the case, it will be the case. So it will make no difference at all in that.

The decision by the President that was announced today has taken some time because the United States feels very strongly about the Geneva Conventions. We think they're important. They clearly provide assurances for people who are lawful combatants like our soldiers, sailor, Marines, and airmen are, and so we have a lot of respect for the Convention.

But the reality is that the set of facts that exist today with respect to al Qaeda and Taliban where not necessarily the kinds of facts that were considered when the Geneva Convention was fashioned some half a century ago.

That being the case, while it makes no difference in how these individuals will be treated, it could conceivably be considered a precedent for the future and that is why the lawyers took their time and care in making the judgments that the President finally, the recommendations to the President that the President finally made.

Q: And no further need for the three-man tribunal that the ABA called for?

Rumsfeld: My understanding is that that is -- First of all, the short answer is it's my understanding it would not make any difference with respect to them because the President, as I understand the decision, decided that -- are lawyers here? No. I won't use as a matter of law. I'll just say I believe the President decided that the al Qaeda would not fit within the Geneva Convention because the Geneva Convention is an instrument among states in conflict, and the al Qaeda is not a state. It is a terrorist organization.

He made the decision that the Taliban would fit within the framework of the convention. And that because, while a lot of people did not believe that the Taliban was legitimately a government, and clearly had not been recognized by the UN or most of the countries of the world, he made a conclusion that they would be considered as having the convention apply.

Therefore, there is not doubt he has come to that conclusion. And the convention is written in a way that we're, in those instances where there is doubt it suggests that there be a screening process. The word tribunal is used, which is a very different meaning for the word than the so-called military tribunals or military commissions that have been discussed in another context.

The screening process that has taken place by the United States has been a process where we have had multi-agency teams that have included the defense establishment, the Department of Justice, the Central Intelligence Agency, screen people to determine what they were, which is really what the Geneva Convention envisioned when they talked about tribunals. And that sort or that sifting, that process has taken place on an individual basis since the outset of this process of detaining fighters who have been fighting against the Afghan government.

I don't know that I came here to do this. (Laughter) I came here, and I'm leaving. I'm going to leave it to the --

Q: -- If you could just on the --

Rumsfeld: You did not hear me. I said I am leaving, and I meant it.

Q: -- of the relationship, the (inaudible) of NORAD to --

Rumsfeld: Boy, you're tough. (Laughter)

Q: And relentless. To an extension of NORAD and the closer cooperation between Canada and the United States in terms of the continental defense?

(Laughter)

Rumsfeld: The signing today and the partnership between our two countries on this important project obviously is a sign of the close relationship between our two countries. Needless to say the relationship in NORAD is a long one, it's a mutually beneficial one, it's one that has been just a fabulous example of military-to-military cooperation and relationships for a good many years, and there's no question but that both of our countries have benefitted from it.

Q: Mr. Secretary one more on the Joint Strike Fighter?

Rumsfeld: See what you did? You see what you did? I'm leaving.

Q: No, take one more on the Joint Strike Fighter and NATO, please.

Rumsfeld: I'm not going to. I really came in to just -- People are waiting for me. I should not be here answering questions.

Aldridge: I'm sorry.

(Applause)

Aldridge: I'm going to answer the question that was started.

Once the down-select occurred on October 26th we had a configuration and we had a program that we could now lay out. Before we had two different bidders that had two different approaches to what the program SDD, system development and demonstration. So once we got the program decided then we could put a structure to the test program and that's what we did. We can then lay out a positively priced test program, and we added some money to make sure that we could confidently develop the program to our very best estimate. There was some increase in the cost of the program over the long term, but we did properly price it, we think it's still properly priced, and that's philosophy we'll continue to do so.

Q: Now that you've got Canada and already Britain on board, when or possibly who do you think the next country will be to join the Joint Strike Fighter program?

Aldridge: We have been in negotiations with several countries. It's up to them when they decide to come on board. We have made it very clear the earlier the better. We're expecting that the Netherlands will come on board reasonably soon. Next week my counterpart, the National Armaments Director from Italy will be here to continue their discussions. We have been in discussions with Norway and Denmark and Turkey. Again, they're the ones that have to make their own decisions. I can't set a time scale for them, other than earlier the better, the earlier they can get on board the program the better it will be for them. Certainly the UK was first on board. We're delighted that Canada is next on board and quite reasonably, earlier, they'll have an advantage over other countries because they're now on board.

Q: Could you both comment on whether the ITAs, the International Trade and Armaments regulations are going to have an effect on the Canadian industry? They've certainly been an irritant in terms of the working.

Aldridge: We are going through that process, but we have an agreement of how to proceed with the export control license process. Those will be done in an expedited manner for this type of program. I think we have a process in place to make that happen.

Williams: I agree. (Laughter)

Q: Could you comment? There have been exaggerations in the past in terms of the fallout for Canada in terms of military contracts. What specifically do you see coming back to Canada in terms of contracts for the defense industry or for other industries?

Williams: I think while initially after the ITAR exemption was removed back in April 12, '99, there were significant repercussions. Much has happened since then and I think owing to the goodwill between the two countries, Canada has regained, if you will, much of what it lost back then.

So my assessment today is that we in fact are able to operate virtually, not quite, but nearly as efficiently and effectively with our counterparts in the U.S. industry-to-industry, and I'm expecting on the JSF as Pete just indicated, that additional vehicles or mechanisms will even facilitate that further.

Q: What's the figure that you have for the expected Canadian spin-off as a result of industrial --

Williams: I don't have an expected figure. We went into this project with our industry recognizing that a key cornerstone of the success of this program is value added. May the best survive. We have told our industry that what we're doing for you as the Canadian government is giving you the opportunity to compete. We have talked a great deal with our industry, our industry has had significant discussions, over 60-some companies, with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman and others, and they feel very comfortable that they'll be able to do a great deal of the work cost effectively and provide value added to the program.

So we are not demanding, we are not insisting upon any special kind of privilege. The fact is we are in early. And that has advantages. Our companies will now be able to aggressively pursue opportunities and we expect they'll be successful in many of them.

Q: Can you give us a ball park figure of the economic and industrial benefits of the program for Canada?

Williams: There is a great deal of potential, depending on how successful industry is. I will say this. That when we talk in the short and medium term we're certainly talking in this phase, potentially up to 3500 to 5000 jobs we think. As you extrapolate that well into the future, the potential is enormous for maybe 60-plus thousand jobs. That again depends on how successful we are. But we're fairly comfortable that the economic impact in terms of jobs for Canada and Canadians is dramatic.

Aldridge: I want to make a point that this is not a return on investment project, it is a project for the importance of the national security of our respective nations and we're doing so for that purpose. We're trying to buy the very best aircraft for our fighter pilots for the future.

There are no guarantees on any of these international cooperative efforts on other countries. They will be done on a competitive basis. That's value added to the project. And all industries will have to compete on a fair and even basis.

Q: One of the benefits of being early signatories basically was supposed to be that you can basically assure yourself of a slot in the production line, if you so choose. Where in the long-range plan would you see Canada buying in? And we're probably talking about the CTOL [Conventional Take Off And Landing] version here.

Williams: As you know, we currently operate the F-18s. We are currently embarking on a significant upgrade program that we feel will keep them serviceable through the year 2017, 2018. We will take our time between now and then to assess our capabilities and our needs and make a decision by that time.

Q: With the future moving more to unmanned aircraft, why the emphasis now on manned fighter pilots and all this matter of money and research going into that when the future would seem to be more in the unmanned.

Aldridge: Certainly the unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, have proven themselves in combat in Afghanistan, but they were never a substitute for manned aircraft. They're a complement. We can use UAVs in certain ways that are an advantage for us in terms of surveillance, intelligence gathering, reconnaissance capabilities, and as you know the Predator we've actually even armed on these occasions.

But there are limitations in what UAVs can do. The manned aircraft is much more flexible for the type of operations that we see against unknown, mobile type targets. There will be always be, at least for the foreseeable future, a need for the highly flexible and capable manned aircraft, but in the future we could see it as manned and unmanned as being in the mix for the future. But right now the Joint Strike Fighter is what we need to get on with to meet our requirements over the period that it will be needed in the future.

Q: Mr. Williams, where do you stand in terms of deliberations on the possible future use of NORAD as the brains for a missile defense, a continental missile defense?

Williams: Frankly that question is a complex one that I would not be the appropriate person to talk to.

Aldridge: Any other questions? Okay. Thank you very much.

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