February 8, 2023

Wire Service Canada

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Canada Announces Acquisition of 88 F-35A Lightning II – Defense Analysis

The Canadian government has announced the purchase of Lockheed Martin’s fifth generation F-35 Lightning II aircraft as part of the Future Fighter Capability Program. The Royal Canadian Air Force will receive 88 F-35A multi-role stealth fighters with an extensive training program.

In a statement, Lockheed Martin said, “The F-35 strengthens Canada’s operational capabilities with its allies, as a critical component of operations with NORAD and NATO. The F-35 is a critical mission space asset for 21st century security and gives pilots an edge over any adversary.” This enables them to complete their mission and return safely.

Canada launched a “Future Combat Capability Program” tender process in 2017 to acquire a successor to the Boeing CF-18 Hornet fighter jet. A formal request for proposals was issued to industries in July 2019 and closed in July 2020 The exam was held in March 2022.

Canada bought some Australian F/A-18 fighters to supplement its CF-18s, whose operational life will be extended to 2032: the F-35s will be equipped with arctic equipment such as parachute-brake to operate on narrow and icy runways.

First 4 Canadian F-35As to be delivered in 2026, 6 in 2027 and another 6 in 2028: Full operational capability of the Canadian Lightning II fleet between 2032 and 2034, Defense Minister Anita Anand said.

The project is expected to cost 19 billion Canadian dollars (14.2 billion US dollars), with other funds expected to go towards infrastructure at the Bagotville (Quebec) and Gold Lake (Alberta) bases, which will host the F-35A. The full life cycle cost of the aircraft through 2070 is now estimated at 70 billion Canadian dollars.

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Currently, the F-35 operates from 27 bases around the world and nine countries use it for domestic operational missions. More than 890 F-35s are in service, with 1,870 pilots and 13,500 aircraft trained.

(With sources Lockheed Martin and Canadian Ministry of Defence)