Finland chooses F-35 fighter jet, will spend CAD $1.2 billion on “weapons package” for new warplanes

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On December 10, Reuters reported: “Finland has chosen U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighters to replace ageing F/A-18 combat jets and plans to order 64 planes with weapons systems in a $9.4 billion deal, the government said on Friday.”

Among the contenders for the Finnish contract were the Swedish Saab Gripen and the American Boeing F/A-18 fighter jets.

It is also widely expected that Canada will choose the F-35 fighter jet in March/April 2022. Just three weeks ago Boeing was eliminated from the Canadian competition leaving Saab as the only contender vying for the contract with Lockheed Martin.

Reuters has previously reported: “Defense analysts had been certain Ottawa would exclude Saab’s Gripen plane. Canada belongs to the consortium that developed Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jet, which defense sources say is the preferred choice of the air force.”

Hangars on stolen land

Today’s Reuters article also notes: “The construction of hangars and other equipment will add a further 777 million euros, and 824 million euros will be reserved for the final optimised weapons package and to control future contract amendments, it added.”

Similarly, contracts have already been awarded in Canada for the construction of hangars for the new fighter jets.

In August 2020, the Canadian government awarded a $9.2 million contract for a new fighter jet facility at the Cold Lake Air Force Base that would house the new warplanes. That work is to start in the summer of 2022 while the jets are to arrive in 2025.

Dene Su’lene’ land defenders have stated: “In 1952, we were forcibly evicted from our homelands [so that the base could be constructed].”

Weapons for the new warplanes

But while Finland will reportedly spend about 824 million euros (CAD $1.2 billion) on the “final optimized weapons package”, it’s not clear how much Canada will spend on weapons to equip its new warplane.

Last year, David Pugliese reported: “The U.S. government has cleared the way for Canada to buy more than $1 billion worth of new missiles and related equipment for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18 fighter jet fleet.”

“The U.S. State Department approved the proposed sale to Canada for the 50 Sidewinder AIM-9X Block II Tactical missiles, radars and other various equipment for an estimated cost of $862.3 million U.S. ($1.1 billion Canadian). …Besides the 50 Sidewinder missiles, the deal will include training missiles, guidance systems, 38 specialized radar units, 20 Joint Standoff Weapons as well as support equipment.”

The article notes: “The companies involved in the sale are U.S. firms, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing and Collins Aerospace.”

Specifically, the AIM-9X Sidewinder Missile is manufactured by Raytheon. The missile itself carries a 20-pound (9-kg) WDU-17/B annular blast fragmentation warhead. The explosive force of the missile sends nearly 200 titanium fragmentation rods outward in all directions in an annular (ring-shaped) pattern.

We add the question of how much is being spent by Canada on missiles and bombs to our list of Five questions for Ministers Filomena Tassi and Anita Anand on the purchase of Canada’s new fleet of fighter jets.

One of those questions is: The current fleet of CF-18s has conducted an estimated 1,598 offensive bombing missions over the past 30 years. Murray Brewster of CBC News has reported on DND’s refusal to disclose the casualty figures from its bombing missions in Iraq and Syria. Will a comprehensive report on casualties be released before billions are spent on new warplanes?

We look forward to answers and a public debate.

Photo: Royal Canadian Air Force ground crew align a bomb as they mount munitions on a CF-18 fighter jet prior to the first combat mission over Iraq.

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