(Ottawa) Negotiations between Canada, Lockheed Martin and the United States government for the purchase of 88 F-35 stealth aircraft are progressing. So much so that the Minister of National Defence, Anita Anand, suggests in an interview with The Press that she will be able to announce good news “soon”.
The Trudeau government had set itself the goal of concluding a formal agreement before the end of December. Negotiations to this effect were launched in March between senior officials of the Department of Public Services and Supply, representatives of the American company and Washington. However, these negotiations could only be concluded at the beginning of 2023.
“We hope to have news soon, but as I said earlier this year, we had negotiations with a supplier, and we continue to speak with this supplier. I hope we will have news soon […] We must give our Armed Forces the equipment they need. We will deliver the goods, ”certified Minister Anita Anand.
It is important for me, as Minister of National Defence, to continue to ensure that we have the necessary equipment to protect our country, to contribute to the protection of our continent with our allies.
Anita Anand, Minister of National Defense
After years of dithering, the Trudeau government announced in March that Lockheed Martin’s F-35 had overtaken Sweden’s Saab Gripen in a competitive tender. In all, Canada plans to purchase 88 new fighters to replace the aging CF-18 fleet. The cost of these devices was estimated at some 19 billion dollars, but the bill will probably be revised upwards due to the high rate of inflation.
Remember that in the 2015 federal election, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals had promised never to buy the F-35 planes that Stephen Harper’s government had in its sights. He had promised to launch a new call for tenders. At the time, Canada was planning to purchase 65 stealth aircraft.
The Department of Public Services and Supply has been extremely cautious about the state of negotiations with Lockheed Martin and has flatly refused to specify a timetable.
“The multi-step evaluation process is conducted based on a wide range of factors including capabilities, cost and economic impact. […] The top-ranked bidder must demonstrate that the resulting contract will meet all of Canada’s requirements and expectations, including good value for money spent, flexibility, risk protection, performance and delivery guarantees , as well as high-value economic benefits for Canada’s aerospace and defense industries,” Department spokesperson Michèle LaRose said in an email to The Press.
She explained that the progress of the negotiations surrounding this important contract is observed by an independent third party, which ensures that all bidders are treated fairly.
“Due to the sensitive nature of the ongoing process, no further information can be given on the progress of the process at this time,” added Mr.me The Rose.
Twenty Canadian companies involved
In March, Trudeau government ministers indicated that Canada should receive the first stealth aircraft in 2025 if negotiations were successful. But this schedule could be delayed by a year. The last devices should be delivered in 2032.
Since 1997, Canada has participated in the F-35 development program. It has already allocated more than 600 million US to this program. The United States and many other Canadian allies are already using this stealth aircraft.
This Canadian financial contribution to the F-35 development program paved the way for Canadian companies. In fact, some twenty Canadian companies are already working on the production of Lockheed Martin’s F-35s, many of which are located in Quebec.
A spokeswoman for the American company would not comment on the status of the negotiations, inviting The Press to speak to the federal government about this.