Liberals Make U-Turn on F-35 Fighter Jet Purchase, Secure $19B Deal With Lockheed Martin
The Liberal government secured a $19 billion deal to replace Canada’s aging military aircraft and purchase a new fleet of F-35 fighter jets, despite earlier promises to not buy the aircraft and instead boost navy spending.
On Monday, Ottawa finalized an agreement to purchase 88 F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin Corp (NYSE: LMT) for $19 billion, which will also cover the costs of setting up the infrastructure, as well as weapons and other added parts. Defence Minister Anita Anand stated that delivery of the F-35s will start in 2026 and the fleet will be fully operational sometime between 2032 and 2034. She also highlighted that the F-35 is the most advanced fighter currently on the market and is the best option for Canada when it comes to replacing its aging CF-18s.
The aircrafts’ lifespan is expected to last until 2070, but government officials are estimating their maintenance costs will average around $70 billion. According to Anand, the purchase and maintenance of these fighter jets will provide a $425 million boost to Canada’s economy each year, and create around 3,300 jobs annually. The move comes after a 2015 Liberal promise whereby Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to not purchase F-35 fighter jets and buy cheaper aircraft instead, using the saved funds to boost navy spending.
At the time, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government had plans to purchase 65 F-35s for the RCAF at a price tag of $44 billion for the jets’ 40-year lifespan, but the procurement process was halted after the auditor general accused Ottawa of making misleading project costs and failing to conduct adequate research.
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