Canada Reconsidering F-35 Buy?

by: Matthew Potter
March 14, 2012

Category: Boeing, Business Line, Canada, Companies, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Countries, Department of Defense, development program, Events, Holland, Japan, Lockheed Martin, Military Aviation, production program, Services, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy | RSS 2.0

Canada like many of the U.S. allied nations that purchased U.S. fighter aircraft in the 80’s is facing the need to upgrade their forces. They have used the CF-18 now for several years. They like others joined the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program early on providing R&D funds for the new aircraft. In 2010 the Conservative government decided to go ahead and commit to the production part of the contract with plans to buy 65 of the advanced fighters from Lockheed Martin (LMT). The move was controversial with the opposition ending up forcing a vote of no confidence in the government over the decision.

The Conservatives did well in the following election and actually increased their hold in Parliament.

The JSF program has seen major schedule slips as well as cost increases. This is why it is controversial in Canada, the U.S. and other potential buying nations. The U.S. has recently announced in their upcoming budget plans to reduce the annual buys of the aircraft in order to save money. This will stretch out the delivery times and further increase the price of the aircraft. Their also continue to be nagging technical problems common in any development program that has restricted testing and training.

Now there are reports coming out of Canada that it may be reconsidering their plans to buy the JSF. In testimony to Parliament defense officials stressed that they are still intending to buy the aircraft but there is no contract and they could leave the program if they wanted to. Canada has already stated that they will not spend more then they currently plan on the JSF which could lead to reduced numbers if the prices continue to increase.

If Canada does not buy the F-35 they will be faced with deciding between a variety of current aircraft. These include the Boeing (BA) F/A-18, Eurofighter Typhoon and France’s Rafale. The U.S. remains committed to the program and it will replace the F-16, F/A-18, and other aircraft.

If Canada does leave it would be a blow to the program and might encourage other purchasers like Holland and Japan to reconsider their choice.

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