Canadian Lightning IIs Back on the Table

The Canadian government resurrected the possibility of buying F-35 Lightning IIs to replace its long-serving CF-18 Hornet fleet, apparently reversing the government’s vow to abandon F-35, Canada’s The Star reported. Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the government will not rule out buying the F-35, but will evaluate each potential F-18 replacement on its merits through a transparent selection process. “The real issue here is we want to make sure that we replace the F-18 and have a suitable aircraft that meets the needs of Canada. That’s what we’re committed to do,” Sajjan said, according to the paper. Canada was one of the original F-35 development partners, and planned to purchase a total of 65 aircraft to equip the Royal Canadian Air Force before the selection process was re-launched on cost grounds in 2012. The country’s newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a platform of axing Canada’s F-35 buy and replacing the F-18 with a cheaper alternative. The RCAF plans to extend the CF-18 fleet to at least 2025 pending acquisition of a replacement fighter.