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Canada to Look at Other Aircraft for F-35 Mission

After considering the independent auditor’s report submitted to the Ministry of Public Works earlier this year the Conservative government of Canada announced yesterday that they would now look at other aircraft rather then the F-35 to meet the CF-18 replacement requirement. The major reason cited was the much higher estimate of the lifetime cost to procure and operate the advanced aircraft.

The new estimate is almost $46 billion over a projected 42 years. The estimate used to justify the sole source contract for the F-35 was $25 billion for 20 years of operations. The auditor also estimated that due to the cost increases in the F-35 that with the current available funding only 55 aircraft could be bought and not 65.

Canada will now establish a new group to look at aircraft. These could include Boeing (BA) F/A-18 fighters, Eurofighter Typhoons and Dassault Rafale aircraft. The loss of the Canadian buy while a small part of the total planned quantity of over 2,000 F-35 would be a blow to the program and Lockheed Martin (LMT).

The increases in unit cost of the aircraft along with the delays in schedule have caused other partners to reconsider. The Netherlands has also looked at the program’s cost growth over the years as a reason to reconsider. It would allow less aircraft to be purchased to replace their aging F-16 fighters. There is also a requirement to continue using the older aircraft longer then originally planned with associated costs.

Canada could in the end still choose the F-35 but the fact that they are conducting the review is a negative for the overall program.

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