The Canadian government has finalized a purchase agreement with the US-based aerospace and defense manufacturer Lockheed Martin to buy the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II fighter jets. The new jets will replace the current aging fleet of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
Details of the deal, which is worth $14.2 billion, were clarified on January 9, 2023, with the Royal Canadian Air Force set to receive 88 F-35A multirole stealth fighters as well as a “comprehensive training program and a sustainment solution tailored to Canada’s sovereign requirement,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement.
“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 Mike Schmidt, executive officer of the F-35 program.
The RCAF currently operates McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornets, some of which have already spent more than four decades in operation. The new F-35s are expected to strengthen the country’s operational capabilities.
“As a critical node in the 21st Century Security mission space, the F-35 gives pilots an advantage against any adversary and enables them to execute their mission and come home safe,” Lockheed Martin added.
According to the manufacturer, as of January 2023, more than 890 F-35s are currently in service across 27 military bases.
The first fighter jets are expected to be delivered to the RCAF in 2026, Canada’s Defense Minister Anita Anand said in a news conference, as reported by Reuters. The entire fleet will be renewed with the new generation fighters between 2032 and 2034.