Liberals expected to launch negotiations to buy F-35 fighter jets

OTTAWA – The Liberal government is expected to announce today that it will enter into final negotiations on purchasing the F-35 fighter jet.

Government and industry sources have told The Canadian Press the negotiations with manufacturer Lockheed Martin will be announced at a news conference this afternoon.

The sources spoke on the condition they not be named because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

While this doesn’t mean a deal to purchase the stealth fighter is officially done, it does mean Canada is on the verge of finally choosing a replacement for its aging CF-18s.

Should negotiations fall through, the government retains the option to enter into talks with Saab, whose Gripen fighter came second to the F-35 in the competition.

Canada is planning to buy 88 new fighter jets to replace its CF-18s, with the government having budgeted up to $19 billion for the purchase.

The previous Conservative government announced a plan to buy 65 F-35s more than a decade ago, but backed off the deal amid controversy over the aircraft’s cost and unproven track record.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during the 2015 federal election campaign not to buy the F-35, but later allowed the stealth fighter to compete alongside other designs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2022.

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