Lockheed Martin has arrived at a $14.2-billion (C$19-billion) deal with the Canadian government to supply 88 F-35A fighter jets, with deliveries expected to begin in 2026. The deal includes the cost of outfitting two Royal Canadian Air Force bases (Cold Lake, Alb., Bagotville, Que.) to house the new aircraft, which are replacing Canada’s fleet of Boeing F-18 fighter jets.
Canada chose the F-35 last March over options offered by Boeing and Saab, in what had been a long debate in which the Trudeau government had opposed the Lockheed selection. The RCAF’s new fleet could be fully operational by 2032, according to Defense Minister Anita Anand.
“In today’s complex global environment, Canada requires a military that is flexible, agile and capable of responding to a variety of unforeseen situations,” according to Anand’s statement. “As the rules-based international order is challenged around the world, the F-35 will be essential for protecting Canadians, enhancing Arctic security and national sovereignty, and enabling Canada to meet its NATO, NORAD and other obligations well into the future.”
The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is a single-engine, Stealth-enabled aircraft designed for deployment for ground attack and combat, and available in three variants. The RCAF will operate the F-35A, for conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL.)
Canada joins a growing list of allied defense forces that have selected the F-35, including Germany and Finland in the past 13 months. Other nations already operating or anticipating delivery of different variants include Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Israel, Italy, The Netherland, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Switzerland, and the U.K.
“We are honored the Government of Canada has selected the F-35, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian defense industry to deliver and sustain the aircraft,” stated Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager for the F-35 program. “The selection of F-35 strengthens allied airpower in Canada, North America and around the world.”