F-35 as interim fighter for Canada

CANADA’s GOVERNMENT IS NOW EVALUATING THE F-35 AS INTERIM FIGHTER

By Dario Leone
Aug 13 2017
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Buying F-35 jets for the interim fighter aircraft program would be an embarrassing move for Justin Trudeau government. As prime minister, he claimed the F-35 “does not work.”

As reported by National Post, Lockheed Martin has offered to Canada’s Liberal government the F-35 as interim fighter aircraft, a move sure to turn up the heat on rival U.S. aerospace firm Boeing still embroiled in a trade dispute with Canada.

As we have explained the Canadian government said last year it would enter into discussions with the U.S. on buying several samples of Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft as interim fighter to supplement Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aging CF-18 fleet and then holding an open competition to determine which aircraft will be Canada’s “definitive” fighter.

But on May 18, 2017 Canada’s government Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland warned that her country could cancel the planned $2 billion purchase of 18 F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters because of U.S. Department of Commerce anti-dumping investigations against Canadian plane-maker Bombardier. Boeing in fact claimed the same day that since Bombardier’s new larger C Series passenger aircraft receives Canadian government subsidies that can give it advantages on international market, duties should be imposed on the Canadian airliner.

Lockheed Martin has seen opportunity in the rift between Canada and Boeing and has officially offered its F-35 as an interim aircraft to supplement the RCAF CF-18 jets. Lockheed has long contended the F-35 is more cost effective and more advanced than the Super Hornet.

Furthermore Canada is still part of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program: earlier this year in fact Canadian government forked out $30 million to remain as a partner nation in the JSF program.

VFA-103 Low Viz Super Hornet print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F/A-18F Super Hornet VFA-103 Jolly Rogers, AG201 / 166621 / 2007

The transfer took place in April, revealed National Defence spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande.

Noteworthy the country has paid US$373 million into the program since 1997, Lamirande explained.

Staying in the program has advantages: partners in fact not only compete for billions of dollars worth of contracts associated with the building and maintaining F-35, but they also get a discount when purchasing the plane.

Asked about Lockheed Martin’s offer, Matthew Luloff, a spokesman with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office, said that Canadian government continues “to explore many options to provide an interim solution to supplement the CF-18s until the permanent replacement is fully operational. We have not yet made a decision. Discussions must demonstrate that the interim fleet is appropriately capable and can be obtained at a cost, schedule, and economic value that are acceptable to Canadians.”

F-35C and F/A-18E Super Hornet

But buying F-35 jets for the interim fighter aircraft program would be an embarrassing move for Justin Trudeau government. During the election campaign, he vowed his government would never buy the F-35. As prime minister, Trudeau later claimed the F-35 “does not work.”

Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Caleb Worpel / U.S. Air Force and Lt. Cmdr. Darin Russell / U.S. Navy

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.
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