Announcement regarding the F-35 acquisition

Speech

Good morning everyone. Bonjour.

I am joining you from the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Huron-Wendat and the Haudenosaunee.

In 2017, we launched an open, fair and transparent competition for the permanent replacement of Canada’s fighter fleet.

We did so because we are determined to provide our aviators with the best and most advanced equipment available, and thus acquire the right aircraft at the right price for Canadians.

As our world grows darker, with Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable attack on Ukraine, and China’s increasingly assertive behavior in the Indo-Pacific, this project has taken on heightened significance – especially given the importance of interoperability with our allies.

Public Services and Procurement Canada has arrived at the culmination of its robust, seven-step process to procure a new fleet of fighter jets for Canada.

Today I am announcing that Canada is acquiring a new fleet of eighty-eight, state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jets, through an agreement that we have finalized with the United States government and Lockheed Martin with Pratt and Whitney.

This investment is estimated at nineteen billion dollars – making it the largest investment in our Royal Canadian Air Force in thirty years.

I am here to announce that Canada will procure a new fleet of eighty‑eight F-35 fighter jets, through an agreement that we have finalized with the United States government and Lockheed Martin with Pratt and Whitney.

This investment is estimated at nineteen billion dollars – making it the largest investment in our Royal Canadian Air Force in thirty years.

This acquisition will occur with funding set out in our 2017 defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, and delivers on our commitment to ensure that our Air Force has the equipment needed to protect Canadians.

The F-35 is a modern, reliable, and agile fighter aircraft used by our closest allies in missions across the globe. It is the most advanced fighter on the market, and it is the right aircraft for Canada.

The F-35 provides pilots with enhanced intelligence; surveillance; and reconnaissance capabilities, greatly improving their situational awareness and survivability in today’s high-threat operational environment.

Canada’s new fleet of 88 jets is being acquired in tranches – starting with an initial tranche of 16.

We expect:

  • the first four aircraft to be delivered in 2026,
  • the next six in 2027,
  • and the next six in 2028,
  • with the full fleet to arrive in time to enable the phase out of the CF-18s by the end of 2032.

As we move towards a new fleet, we are ensuring that our Air Force has the aircraft needed to protect Canada in the interim. We have procured Australian F-18s to supplement our existing fleet of CF-18 aircraft, which are also being upgraded under the Hornet Extension Project. 

These two initiatives will help extend the life of our CF-18 fleet to 2032, and will allow for a gradual transition from the CF-18 to the F-35 – while ensuring that the RCAF is equipped to sustain key defence missions in North America and internationally.

By acquiring this fleet, we are enhancing Canada’s capacities in our airspace, and ensuring a closer and more seamless coordination with our allies.

The new fighter fleet will ensure Canada can meet its military obligations at home and deliver on its commitments under NORAD and NATO.

This $19 billion investment includes not just aircraft, but also sustainment set-up and services for the aircraft, associated aircraft equipment, and the construction of modern fighter squadron facilities in Bagotville, Quebec, and Cold Lake, Alberta.

This $19 billion investment includes not just aircraft, but also sustainment set-up and services for the aircraft, associated aircraft equipment, and the construction of modern fighter squadron facilities in Bagotville, Quebec and Cold Lake, Alberta.

These facilities will be home to both operational and training Squadrons, and will include space for daily operations, maintenance, administration, mission planning, and simulator training in support of the entire fleet.

At the same time, and under separate, previously-announced funding, we’re moving forward with investments through our NORAD Modernization Plan, including a range of infrastructure upgrades across Canada to support NORAD and F-35 operations.

Together, these projects will sharpen our military edge to keep Canadians safe – and they will create economic opportunities for our country.

The acquisition and initial maintenance of the F-35 has the potential to contribute over 425 million dollars annually to the Canadian economy and close to 3,300 jobs annually for Canadian industry over a 25-year period. 

In fact, Canada’s participation in the Joint Strike Fighter program over the past number of years has already allowed companies in Canada to secure almost three billion USD in contracts, and this will grow.

Standing back, approximately three thousand F-35s are forecast to be produced for partners and allies across the world – and every one of these jets will also include Canadian components – from landing gear parts, to engine parts, to software – making the F-35 a testament to Canada’s world-class aerospace and defence industry. Our industry will also be well positioned to participate in the substantial maintenance opportunities of both the Canadian and global fleets.

In the future, we will continue to work closely with our industry partners to provide the most up-to-date information on the opportunities available to our workers and our businesses. This includes  Indigenous and Northern businesses.

As global tensions rise, we will never waver in our commitment to keep Canadians safe. We’re committed to making the necessary investments to protect Canada – and today’s announcement is evidence of this resolve.

The F-35 advanced fighter aircraft fleet will ensure that our aviators have the long-term ability to defend the second largest airspace in the world. It will help us to meet our NORAD and NATO commitments. And it will also deliver concrete economic benefits to Canada.

To the aviators of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the entire Canadian Armed Forces: thank you for your service and devotion to Canada. You risk your lives for this country, and we will ensure that you have the top-of-the-line equipment that you need to keep Canada safe.

I confirm today that Canada is acquiring the best fighter aircraft on the market at the best price for Canadians. I would like to thank everyone who played a role in carrying out this purchase.

Thank you, merci, miigwetch.

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