Lockheed Martin, with its F-35 fighters, joined Boeing and Saab in submitting bids to build Future Fighter Capability Project for Canada’s armed forces.
Besides Lockheed’s F-35, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet Block III and Saab’s Gripen E are under consideration.
The US$19 billion program calls for eventual purchase of 88 new fighter planes, with initial payments due as Canada begins paying for four new Navy frigates, as well as dealing with the debt accrued in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
A plan to purchase new planes first emerged in the 1990s, but changes in Canadian government, questions about the F-35’s cost, and longstanding suspicions that the Canadian military has preferred the F-35 over competitors led to delays, and rounds of government/industry consultations and reviews.
The COVID-19 pandemic also pushed the final bid submission date to the end of July.
Lockheed Martin said Canada has been a valued partner since the inception of the Joint Strike Fighter competition. Canadian industry plays an integral role in the global F-35 supply chain and has gained significant technical expertise over the past 15-plus year involvement in the F-35 production.
“We are extremely proud of our longstanding partnership with Canada, which has played a key role in the F-35’s development,” said Greg Ulmer, F-35 Program executive vice president. “The 5th Generation F-35 would transform the Royal Canadian Air Force fleet and deliver the capabilities necessary to safeguard Canadian skies.
The F-35’s unique mix of stealth and sensor technology will enable the Royal Canadian Air Force to modernize their contribution to NORAD operations, ensure Arctic sovereignty and meet increasingly sophisticated global threats.”
The program will continue to bring manufacturing and production opportunities to Canada, with an estimated 150,000 jobs supported over the life of the program. The F-35 program connects Canadian industry to a global supply chain supporting a growing fleet that will deliver more than 3,200 aircraft and delivers sustainment well past 2060.
To date, the F-35 operates from 24 bases worldwide. More than 1,040 pilots and over 9,340 maintainers are trained. Nine nations operate the F-35 from their home soil and six services have employed F-35s in combat operations.
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