Reports out of Canada suggest that the canucks are bowing out of a deal with Lockheed Martin after the aircraft manufacturer has repeatedly raised the price tag on the still unfinished F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.
Reporter Michael Den Tandt writes for Canada.com that plans to procure a fleet of the state-of-the-art stealth flyers are dead following persistently increasing costs now billions of dollars beyond what was originally expected.
When Canada first announced plans to purchase 65 of the F-35 JSFs in 2010, the cost was reported to be only around $25 billion (CAN) for both making the buy and maintaining the fleet. In the coming days, however, word is expected to be made confirming that the cost is drastically higher for Canadian taxpayers.
Canada’s CTV says they expect an independent audit to be published next week that will show that the actual figure for the purchase and maintenance of the F-35 fleet will be closer to $40 billion. As word of that report begins to surface, the media is slowly starting to leak word that the deal with Lockheed Martin is off.
Canada.com’s Tandt says sources familiar with the decision have confirmed that the administration of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has canceled plans to purchase the fleet pending “the imminent release” of the audit, reported to be conducted by accountants KPMG.
“The decision is sure to have ripple effects around the world, as any reduction in the number of aircraft on order causes the price to go up for all the other buyers,” Tandt writes. “Canada is one of nine F-35 consortium members, including the United States.”
The United States has already pledged to purchase an arsenal of the fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, but delays in the program have put the final price tag when all things are said and done to be around $1 trillion for Americans, well beyond original estimates.
Earlier this year, both Britain and Australia announced that they were momentarily putting plans to procure F-35s of their own on hold pending a series of mishaps at Lockheed Martin that have delayed production and increases costs.
Addressing the growing number of reports alleging that Canada is next to cancel F-35 orders, spokespersons for PM Harper announced on Friday that they have not yet made a decision and will plan a “comprehensive public update” in the coming days after assess KPMG’s audit.
“We are committed to completing the seven point plan and moving forward with our comprehensive, transparent approach to replacing Canada’s aging CF-18 aircraft,” the office of Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose said in a statement.
In October, US Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan condemned the continuous flaws with the F-35s and said “There is no more money and no more time in the development of this program.”
“That is it. We will not go back and ask for any more,” said Bogdan, who just this week was officially appointed to begin overseeing the Pentagon’s F-35 program.
The United States’ F-35 program has so far cost around 70 percent more than initial estimates and is expected to continue through 2050.