Riding the Lightning

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay reaffirmed their nations’ commitment to the F-35 strike fighter program. “Let me make very clear that the United States is committed to the development of the F-35 and to a cooperative relationship with the F-35 with our Canadian friends,” stated Panetta during a joint press briefing with MacKay on Nov. 18 during Panetta’s visit to Halifax, Canada. “This program is going ahead,” said MacKay in response to questions about whether Canada can afford the F-35. “Clearly, budgetary pressures are going to lead to speculation. We are dealing with our budgets, as all countries are dealing with [their] budget, but we are not wavering on our commitment to this program.” Panetta also said it’s “just not true” that the United States is unhappy with the size of Canada’s proposed F-35 buy—65 airplanes. “I trust the ability of Canada and [Defense Minister MacKay] to make the right decisions as to what they need, and we’ll support that,” he said. (Panetta-MacKay transcript)