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

OTTAWA — Canada finalized a deal to purchase 88 F-35 fighter jets from U.S. protection firm Lockheed Martin Corp on Monday in a C$19 billion ($14.2 billion) venture to switch its growing old fleet of fighter plane. The planes would additionally bolster Canada’s Arctic defenses.

Canada expects the primary F-35s to be delivered in 2026 and for the fleet to be totally operational between 2032 and 2034, Protection Minister Anita Anand instructed a information convention.

The F-35 “is essentially the most superior fighter available on the market and it’s the proper plane for our nation,” Anand instructed reporters, including the acquisition and upkeep might contribute over C$425 million yearly to the Canadian economic system and shut to three,300 jobs yearly. Anand mentioned it was the biggest funding within the Royal Canadian Air Power in 30 years.

The F-35 fighter announcement coincides with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s journey to Mexico on Monday for the North American leaders’ summit the place he’ll meet U.S. President Joe Biden.

Ottawa has been attempting for greater than a decade to switch its fleet of Boeing Co CF-18 fighters, a few of that are greater than 40 years outdated. A swap in governments, rule adjustments for the plane procurement course of, in addition to challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic triggered delays.

The Trudeau authorities, which was initially towards shopping for F-35s attributable to prices, held a aggressive course of to pick out the planes the place Lockheed beat out Sweden’s SAAB and Boeing.

“This can be a very mandatory piece for the Canadian army to have — a fighter aircraft made within the twenty first century,” mentioned Stephen Saideman, a professor of worldwide relations at Ottawa’s Carleton College and an protection professional.

The “lengthy, very politicized battle” to buy the jets doesn’t bode properly for future procurement because the nation seeks to scale up its Arctic defenses, and as North American Treaty Group allies push Canada to extend its army spending, Saideman mentioned.

The venture contains value of infrastructure set-up, weapons and different associated bills, along with the worth of planes.

Nevertheless, officers mentioned the full value over the lifecycle of the aircraft — with new jets now estimated to final till 2070 — is estimated to be C$70 billion.

Canada is a part of a consortium that helped develop Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Ottawa can pay the identical quantity for the plane as the opposite members, together with the US.