Canadian F35 jets: Ottawa moves closer to up to $15 billion deal with Lockheed Martin

The move indicates that Canada, forced to increase defense spending as the war rages in Ukraine, is close to making a decision that has dragged on for more than a decade.

“This announcement marks another milestone in Canada’s competitive process to procure advanced fighter aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force,” Tassi said.

Canada has been unsuccessfully trying to replace its aging F-18 fighters for more than a decade. The former Conservative administration said in 2010 it would buy 65 F-35s, but later reversed that decision, leading to years of delays and revisions.

“The F-35 is used by NORAD and NATO partners in missions around the world. It has proven itself to be a mature, combat-ready and interoperable aircraft, and therefore we are moving to the stage of completing this purchase, ”said the Minister of Defense. Anita Anand stated this to journalists, speaking together with Tassi.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government will now only have detailed negotiations with Lockheed Martin. Ottawa says it hopes to secure a contract this year and receive first deliveries in 2025.

Defense Department sources have long been betting on the American company, given that Canada is part of the consortium that developed its jet-powered F-35 and the fact that the military is the first choice of the aircraft. Ottawa says the contract could be worth up to 19 billion Canadian dollars (about $15 billion).

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with Canadian industry to supply and support the F-35 to the Royal Canadian Air Force,” said Lockheed Martin Canada chief executive Lorraine Behn.

If negotiations fail for some reason, the government will turn to the Swedish Saab, another bidder.

“While we maintain our position that Saab has submitted the best proposal for the Future Fighter Capability Project, we respect the Canadian government’s decision,” the Swedish company said in a statement, adding that it will continue to partner with Canada on current and future programs.

Canada, however, has a long history of using US military hardware and, unlike Sweden, belongs to both NATO and NORAD, the North American defense organization.

Trudeau came to power in 2015, promising not to buy the F-35 as too expensive, but changed his stance.

The obvious alternative would have been Boeing, but it fell out of favor after a trade move against Canadian rival Bombardier and was eliminated from the competition last December.

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