Canada to stay in program of F-35 jet buyers despite pledge to withdraw
The Canadian government intends to make a payment this spring to remain part of the consortium of F-35 Lightning fighter-jet buyers, despite a Liberal election promise to exclude the aircraft when selecting this country's next warplane.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's party announced during last year's election campaign that it "no longer makes sense" to buy a fighter with the F-35's stealth, first-strike capability, citing skyrocketing costs for a plane that has been plagued with development problems. The Liberals vowed instead to buy a "lower-priced" aircraft and funnel the money saved into the Royal Canadian Navy.
This week, however, Department of National Defence spokeswoman Ashley Lemire said Canada plans to pay the latest required annual instalment to the Joint Strike Fighter program. She said the upcoming payment is estimated to be $32.9-million (U.S.). The contribution would maintain Canada's membership in the F-35 buyers' pool. This gives Ottawa the right to buy F-35s at a discount and allows Canadian companies to continue to bid on supply contracts for the plane.