Canada Backs Away from F-35

The Canadian government this week retreated from its commitment to procure the F-35 strike fighter, announcing that it is re-launching the search to replace its aged CF-18 Hornet fleet. The Royal Canadian Air Force requirements “that led to the selection of the F-35 will be set aside and not used as part of this new evaluation of options,” stated Rona Ambrose, Canada’s minister of public works and government services, in a Dec. 12 release. The Canadian government has taken this fighter procurement away from Canada’s defense department and handed it to the public works agency after an unfavorable audit of the F-35’s projected lifecycle costs in April. Though Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly underscored his government’s commitment to the F-35, the fighter has long been a political target of his Liberal Party opposition. “Last April, we set out a Seven-Point Plan to hit the reset button on the process to replace the CF-18 aircraft,” said Ambrose. Release of the plan’s criteria this week permits “a full consideration of the options available,” she added. Canada was an original partner in the F-35’s development and planned to buy 65 of the strike fighters. The agency hasn’t ruled out the F-35 entirely, but will consider options such as Boeing’s F-18E/F Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon, or extending the service life of the legacy Hornets, reported Bloomberg on Dec. 13.