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.

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."

More in Procurement

Air Force secretary: 'No regrets' on retiring A-10

Read more »