, 2023-01-09 22:25:06,
Canada has signed off on the final contract to buy F-35 jet fighters to replace the air force’s aging CF-18s, Defence Minister Anita Anand said Monday.
The final agreement for 88 warplanes — involving the Canadian and U.S. governments and the jet’s manufacturer — won’t see its first delivery until 2026 and the first F-35 squadrons will not be operational until 2029, senior defence officials said during a technical briefing before the minister’s announcement.
The project’s budget of $19 billion remains the same as originally forecast by the Liberal government when it signalled the purchase last year. Anand and other government officials are sticking to that projection despite the likely effect of inflation — which has caused budgets for other major programs to rise dramatically.
“The F-35 is a modern, reliable and agile fighter aircraft used by our closest allies in missions across the globe,” Anand said in a virtual news conference.
“It is the most advanced fighter on the market and it is the right aircraft for our country.”
A senior defence official, speaking on background, said the F-35 will be purchased in phases and that the first tranche of four aircraft will cost $85 million US per plane.
The deal represents a dramatic turnaround for the Liberal government, which promised not to buy the F-35 and to instead purchase a cheaper jet fighter and use the savings to bolster the navy.
The Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper first announced…
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