Canada to acquire 88 F-35 Lightning IIs

Lockheed Martin will partner with the Royal Canadian Air Force, Canadian defense industry to deliver and sustain the aircraft.

F-35A demo team during the Canadian International Air Show in Toronto, Canada, Sept. 4, 2021.
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Thomas Barley

The Government of Canada announced is procuring Lockheed Martin's 5th Generation F-35 Lightning II aircraft, based on the Future Fighter Capability Project competition.

The Royal Canadian Air Force will receive 88 F-35A multirole stealth fighters, a sustainment solution tailored to Canada's sovereign requirements and a comprehensive training program.

"Canada is our friend and a close ally. Their decision to procure almost 90 jets underscores the value of the incredible F-35 Lightning II," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Mike Schmidt, program executive officer, F-35 Joint Program Office.

"We are honored the Government of Canada has selected the F-35, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian defense industry to deliver and sustain the aircraft," said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin's vice president and general manager of the F-35 program.

The F-35 strengthens Canada's operational capability with its allies as a cornerstone for interoperability with NORAD and NATO.

"Together with our Canadian industry partners, we are honored by this selection and the sustainment of critical jobs that will continue to equip Canadian workforces with advanced skills," said Lorraine Ben, chief executive, Lockheed Martin Canada.

The program is valued at US$14.2 billion. The first F-35s are expected to be delivered in 2026 and for the fleet to be fully operational between 2032 and 2034, Canada’s Defense Minister Anita Anand told a news conference.

It’s estimated the purchase and maintenance could contribute more than $317 million annually to the Canadian economy and close to 3,300 jobs annually. Reportedly, it’s the largest investment in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 30 years.

Officials estimate the total cost throughout the life cycle of the plane to be $52 billion, with the planes expected to serve until 2070. Canada helped develop Lockheed Martin's F-35 and will pay the same amount for the aircraft as the other participants, including the United States.

To date, the F-35 operates from 27 bases worldwide, with nine nations operating F-35s on their home soil. There are more than 890 F-35s in service today, with more than 1,870 pilots and 13,500 maintainers trained on the aircraft.

At the end of 2022, the U.S. F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin finalized a contract for the production and delivery of up to 398 F-35s for $30 billion, including U.S., international partners and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) aircraft for Belgium, Finland, and Poland in Lots 15 and 16, with the option for Lot 17.

In the most recent foreign sales announcement, the German Ministry of Defense agreed to procure 35 F-35A aircraft, making it the ninth foreign military sales country to join the program.

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