Canada has revealed that it has signed a “decision memorandum” with F-35 joint strike fighter office last March, including a possible acquisition of 65 Lockheed Martin stealth attack planes beginning in 2020.
The “notional” timetable for the potential acquisition over five years was the same calendar set out in 2014 by the former Conservative government before it delayed an F-35 acquisition decision until after the 2015 election year, the department of defense (DND) was quoted as saying by The Hill Times Wednesday.
Apart from signing the memo laying out the F-35 purchase schedule, the government also paid $32.9-million to the US office organizing the F-35 program in June to support the development of the warplane. This allows Canada the option of staying in the program.
The government has stated Canada would continue to take part in development and production of the F-35 as part of a US-led consortium that formed in 2006. The statment followed recent controversy over the federal cabinet’s decision to sole-source an acquisition of 18 Boeing Company F-18 Super Hornets to replenish Canada’s aging fleet of Boeing CF-18 Hornet fighter jets.
However, though the government asserted that Canadian aerospace companies would continue to have access to F-35 production through Canada’s membership in the nine-country consortium, it did not publicize its decision to file a new acquisition schedule as part of ongoing participation in the F-35 project.
The notice to the F-35 project office was routine. “Like all partners in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), Canada signs a yearly decision memorandum,” Jordan Owens, a spokesperson for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South, B.C.) said.
“It is simply a mandatory element of program participation, which has resulted in significant economic benefits to Canadian companies,” Ms. Owens wrote in an emailed comment.
Even though the March memorandum included the notional buy profile contained in the 2014 document, Canada has sent notice to the Joint Strike Office every year since the F-35 production and development phase of the project began in 2006, Ms. Owens said.