Drones are proving a useful (if legally somewhat problematic) tool in counter-terrorism. F-35s and similar air assets have been a useful tool in defeating organized government forces (to wit, Qaddafi's army.) These are not the same problem. Drones can substitute for some portion of what F-35s do, and the other way around is not true; but they are different tools for different targets useful in different kinds of problems sets. The real question is, what kinds of threats does Canada/NATO think it's going to be confronting? NATO has been maddeningly imprecise - or simply unrealistic - about that question. 'Smart defense' is the new name for coordinated, semi-shared procurement, and that's fine as far as it goes; but it's no substitute for genuine strategy, which NATO currently lacks.
Director and Senior Fellow of the NYU Center on International Cooperation