Canadian officials said on Monday that Canada has finalized a deal with Lockheed Martin and the US government to buy 88 F-35 fighter jets.
Delivery of the first four aircraft is expected in 2026 and full operational capability is planned for the fleet between 2032 and 2034.
The government has budgeted approximately C$19 billion ($15 billion) for the purchase, the largest investment in the Royal Canadian Air Force in more than 30 years. The cost of each aircraft is approximately $85 million. The full life cycle of the program is expected to be around $70 billion ($52 billion).
Canada has a close defense relationship with the United States, which includes the joint use of fighter aircraft to protect North American airspace. The announcement comes as Trudeau prepares to meet US President Joe Biden at the North American Leaders Summit in Mexico.
Last year, the government announced that Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet, instead of Boeing’s Super Hornet, was considered the highest bidder to replace the aging F-18. Meanwhile, Canada purchased several Australian F-18s to help extend the life of the Canadian F-18 program until 2032.
Before becoming prime minister, Trudeau claimed that Canada would not buy the F-35. The then-Conservative Canadian government had announced the purchase of the F-35, but Trudeau’s Liberal government delayed that purchase and opened the bidding to competition.
Defense Minister Anita Anand said, “As our world darkens with Russia’s illegal and unjustified aggression on Ukraine and China’s increasingly assertive behavior in the Indo-Pacific region, the project assumes greater importance especially the importance of interoperability with our partners.” ,