The Canadian government has inked a C$19 billion (US$14.2 billion) deal with Lockheed Martin to acquire a fleet of 88 F-35 fighter jets, Minister of Defense Anita Anand said on Monday.
“Today, I am announcing that 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. This investment is estimated at $19 billion, making it the largest investment in our Royal Canadian Air Force in 30 years,” Anand said during a news conference.
Canada will acquire the aircraft in tranches and the first tranche will include 16 jets, the second in 2026 will include four jets, the third in 2027 will include six jets, and the fourth in 2028 will also include six jets.
The rest of the fleet should be delivered by the end of 2032, just in time for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) phase-out of its fleet of CF-18 jets, Anand added.
The defense minister noted that there is no clause in the agreement holding Lockheed Martin accountable for failing in the delivery schedule.
Canada has also acquired more CF-18 units from Australia to supplement RCAF’s fleet in the interim period, Anand said, adding that those are also being upgraded under the so-called Hornet extension project.
“These two initiatives will help extend the life of our CF-18 fleet to 2032 and will allow for a gradual transition from the CF-18 to the F-35,” Anand added.
Earlier, the United States grounded several F-35 fighter jets as a result of concerns following a mishap that occurred with the aircraft on the runway of a military base in Texas earlier in December, the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office spokesperson told Sputnik.
“The F-35 Joint Program Office has issued a Time Compliance Technical Directive (TCTD) to recommend restrictions on a small number of aircraft, which have been evaluated to be of higher risk, from flight operations and until procedures can be developed for their return to flight,” the spokesperson said on Friday.
The affected F-35 aircraft have been identified, and the United States will work with the military services and international partners to address any potential issues.
The United States expects to fix any relevant issues of concern with the F-35 aircraft determined to have potential problems.
Earlier this month, a US F-35B fifth-generation fighter jet crashed during a test flight at a base in the state of Texas. The pilot ejected from the aircraft and did not suffer any serious injuries.
Lockheed Martin will follow appropriate investigation protocol in this incident, according to a company spokesperson.
Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder previously said that the US Defense Department was aware of the F-35 crash in Texas.
In October, an F-35A crashed in the state of Utah at Hill Air Force Base near Salt Lake City.
The F-35 is the most expensive military system ever recorded, and its overall cost rose in 2021 to $412 billion from $398 billion, a Department of Defense report said in September 2022.
Via: Sputnik News Agency