Canada officially buying F-35 fighter jet for $19B to replace CF-18s

By The Canadian Press, Cormac Mac Sweeney, and Hana Mae Nassar

Defence Minister Anita Anand says Canada is officially buying the F-35 fighter jet to replace its aging CF-18s, ending the years-long search where it first began.

Canada had announced plans to buy the F-35 back in 2010, before politics and government mismanagement scuttled that decision.

“Canada is acquiring a new fleet of 88 state of the art F-35 fighter jets through an agreement that we have finalized with the United States government and Lockheed Martin with Pratt and Whitney,” Anand said Monday.

“With Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine and China’s increasingly assertive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific, this project has taken on heightened significance especially given the importance of interoperability with our allies.”

The 88 jets are expected to cost an estimated $19 billion. However, the total lifecycle costs of the plane is an estimated $70 billion.

The deliveries will be incremental, with the first jets expected in 2026 and a fully operational fleet between 2032 and 2034.

Anand says the F-35 is the best choice for Canada.

“It is a modern, reliable, and agile fighter aircraft used by our closest allies in missions across the globe,” she told reporters.

Meanwhile, the government says the deal comes with economic benefits for Canada’s aerospace and defence industries to the tune of about $425 million and 3,300 jobs annually over a 25-year period.

The Canadian Press reported last month that the Defence Department had been authorized to spend $7 billion on an initial set of 16 F-35s and associated gear.

Officials confirmed in a briefing today that Canada will buy all 88 F-35s in a phased approach, with the initial investment including infrastructure upgrades, spare parts and other one-time costs.

Canada is expected to pay US$85 million per F-35, which officials say is the same price as the United States.

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