Canada Defense Minister Backs Off Campaign Rejection of F-35 Jet
Canada’s new defense minister backed off a campaign-trail pledge by his Liberal Party that Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jets would be excluded from a competition to replace the country’s aging fleet of military aircraft.
Harjit Sajjan said Monday [Dec. 21] during a conference call with reporters his focus is finding the best aircraft to replace the CF-18 jets before they become obsolete. He was asked twice whether the F-35 is being excluded from bidding, and both times he sidestepped the question. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said while campaigning for the October election Canada “won’t purchase the F-35” because they’re too expensive [see link near end].
Canada still needs to set the terms of a new competition for replacement aircraft, ones that can be available “in a timely manner” and be able to work on missions with U.S. and European allies, Sajjan said Monday. The previous government had invested in F-35 development contracts without signing a final purchase agreement.
“My focus isn’t about F-35 or any other aircraft; my focus” is about replacing the CF-18s, Sajjan said on the call. “We will open it up to an open process.”..