I'll pick up on the question about NATO and NORAD defence. The capability gap is about the 88 planes: being able to have an 88-plane output and closing that ability to have an 88-plane output in the safest and best way possible with a capability we can rely on. The minister has answered the question about the interim fleet.
I want to make it absolutely clear. You are hearing it now from the chief of the defence staff. This is me. This is my advice. The capability gap exists in terms of the numbers of aircraft we have. It is inconceivable that we would be in a major kinetic configuration on mainland Europe using air power without there being any concomitant threat to North American airspace. Therefore, it is the policy of the Government of Canada, and certainly my advice to the Government of Canada, that we must be able to have the mission-ready aircraft necessary to defend Canadian airspace and NATO airspace simultaneously, should either one or both arrive.
Again, there is no chief of defence I know of who would believe—and certainly I don't—that we would be in a shooting war in Europe and not have our own airspace threatened. With that, we need to be able to do both, and we have commitments to do both. We need the mission-ready aircraft all the time. When you do the math on their deep maintenance and daily maintenance rates, you get 88. That is the capability gap being discussed. That is the number of aircraft we need, and that is why: to be able to defend both in NATO and in North America at the same time.
The pathway to get there is often what's described. The interim aircraft fleet is a pathway to get there, as is the final competition for 88 aircraft, to make certain that we have the aircraft we need to fill that. It is important now, and it has been spoken of a lot. You are hearing it from the chief of the defence staff, my advice.
Unfortunately, based on timing and when committee appearances occurred that came out of the RCAF, my advice and the policy of the Government of Canada have changed after the first committee appearance. That first committee appearance by the commander of the RCAF is no longer relevant or valid, because at that time he was dealing with a different policy. He has a new policy: to be able to do NORAD and NATO simultaneously, because simultaneous threat is what we are dealing with now.