Canada strikes C$19 billion deal for Lockheed F-35 fighter jets

OTTAWA, Jan 9 (Reuters) – Canada on Monday finalized a deal to buy 88 F-35 fighter jets from U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) as part of a 19 billion Canadian dollars ($14.2 billion) to replace its aging fleet of fighter jets.

Canada expects the first F-35s to be delivered in 2026 and the fleet to be fully operational between 2032 and 2034, Defense Minister Anita Anand told a news conference.

The F-35 “is the most advanced fighter on the market and it’s the right aircraft for our country,” Anand told reporters, adding that the purchase and maintenance could contribute more than C$425 million. per year to the Canadian economy and close to 3,300 jobs per year. . Anand said it was the biggest investment in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 30 years.

The F-35 fighter announcement coincides with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to Mexico on Monday for the North American leaders’ summit where he will meet with US President Joe Biden.

Ottawa has been trying for more than a decade to replace its fleet of Boeing Co (BA.N) CF-18 fighters, some of which are over 40 years old. A change in government, rule changes for the aircraft procurement process, as well as the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused delays.

The Trudeau government, which was initially against buying F-35s because of cost, held a competitive process to select planes where Lockheed beat Sweden’s SAAB (SAABb.ST) and Boeing.

“This is a much-needed piece for the Canadian military – a 21st century built fighter,” said Stephen Saideman, a professor of international relations at Carleton University in Ottawa and a defense expert.

The “long, highly politicized struggle” to buy the jets does not bode well for future purchases as the country seeks to bolster its Arctic defenses and North American Treaty Organization allies push for Canada to increase its military spending, Saideman said.

The project includes the cost of setting up infrastructure, weapons and other related expenses, in addition to the price of aircraft.

However, officials said the total life-cycle cost of the plane – with new jets now estimated to last until 2070 – is estimated at C$70 billion.

Canada is part of a consortium that helped develop Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Ottawa will pay the same amount for the plane as other participants, including the United States.

($1 = 1.3404 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Ismail Shakil and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Grant McCool and Josie Kao

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *