Production F-35s start rolling off the line

Discussion in 'Americas' started by prototype, May 11, 2011.

  1. prototype

    prototype Regular Member

    Aug 27, 2010
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    OTTAWA - The US Air Force has taken possession of the first production F-35 fighter jet and another eight are ready to be delivered, according to the developer Lockheed Martin.

    On Friday, the first of nearly 2,000 fifth-generation stealth fighter jets for the US was flown from Lockheed Martin's facility in Fort Worth, Texas, to Edwards Air Force Base in California.

    The Conservative government has committed to buying 65 F-35s for $9 billion plus another estimated $7 billion in maintenance costs over the aircrafts' lifespan.

    Canada will start to receive its F-35s, which will ultimately replace the country's ageing fleet of CF-18s, in 2016.

    "This first aircraft is the beginning of the modernization of US Air Force, Marine and Naval Air power and for our coalition partners around the world," said Lockheed Martin's Larry Lawson in a statement Monday. "The F-35 family of aircraft will bring an incredible increase in capability that our men and women defending us deserve. Today we begin to fulfill the vision of our government and international customers."

    News of the first production plane's delivery is bolstering officials here that the aircraft the federal government is buying will be delivered on time and on budget.

    Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Tuesday the government is moving ahead with its plans, which they say will be a boom for Canada's aerospace industry.

    "Our government's commitment to procure 65 F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft as well as spares, infrastructure, weapons and simulators for $9 billion provides almost $12 billion worth of industrial benefits for Canadian industry," MacKay said in an email Tuesday. "I'm proud to be part of a government that is successfully procuring the right plane for the Canadian Forces at the right price for the Canadian taxpayer."

    The government insists its price of $75 million per plane is firm, but critics in Canada and the US have long argued the aircraft will cost far more than current estimates.

    Earlier this year, the Parliamentary Budget Office released a report estimating the planes could cost as much as $149 million each and $300 million in service costs over its 30 year lifespan, though the government vehemently disputes that figure.

    NDP defence critic Jack Harris said his party, now the official opposition, won't let up on the aircraft procurement, the largest in Canadian military history.

    Opposition parties have blasted the government for what they allege was a sole source deal and have wondered whether the F-35 is too rich for Canada's blood.

    "I don't think things are moving along as expected. We've had considerable delays and cost overruns," Harris said Tuesday. "No one outside of their own (Conservative) spin doctors believed the price that they were putting on this."

    He said the NDP will continue to press the government on the F-35 purchase, not only on the process without a competitive bid but also whether the F-35 is the right plane for Canada.


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