Canada reportedly leaving F-35 program

The Canadian government now plans to shop for alternatives — though it could still wind up selecting the F-35 again — as it considers other options, according to the Globe and Mail.

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Losing Canada would be a big blow to the other eight countries invested in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, including the United States. The reason is that decreasing the number of planes produced will drive up the cost per plane — and would increase an already over-budget program for the other countries involved.

The F-35 fighter has been hampered by cost overruns and delays, and the rising overall cost has been a major concern and source of criticism for all countries involved.

According to Canadian media, the program was initially supposed to cost $9 billion when Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government announced the purchase in 2010. An audit in April revealed the cost would actually be $25 billion over 20 years, and that number has gone upward once again.

In the United States, the F-35 has long been eyed by budget cutters and military spending critics, and new cost increases could make it a bigger target as defense budgets trend downward. 

Lockheed Martin in a statement did not specifically address the reports that Canada might abandon the F-35, but noted the company has been a partner with Canada for 50 years, saying: "We continue to look forward to supporting the Canadian government as they work to provide their Air Force 5th Generation capability for their future security needs."