Canada’s “opaque” negotiations on F-35 warplane purchase could extend into 2023

Published by Brent Patterson on

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The F-35 can carry 22,000 pounds of bombs and missiles.

On March 28, 2022, Defence Minister Anita Anand and then-Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi announced the Canadian government had chosen the Lockheed Martin F-35 as its preferred replacement for its current fleet of fighter jets and that it would open negotiations with the Maryland-based transnational corporation.

At that time, Tassi said that the negotiations could take as little as seven months. That meant, arguably, that the contract could be signed by November 1.

Now, the Canadian Press reports: “While officials at the time expressed optimism that a deal would be finalized by the end of the year…, Lockheed has said negotiations could drag into next year…”

The article adds: “Retired colonel Alan Stephenson, who now works as a defence analyst for the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said talks between Ottawa, Washington and Lockheed Martin have been “opaque,” with little in the way of updates or details.”

The news report further highlights that Swedish fighter-jet maker Saab has complained about the process during a recent parliamentary committee appearance.

Saab Canada president Simon Carroll says: “Canada’s decision to move into the finalization phase to negotiate with the competitor to determine cost, benefits and deliveries that are mandatory requirements as part of the program are inconsistent with the (fighter jet) procurement guidance that we were given.”

Unanswered questions

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux, Defence Minister Anita Anand, Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault.

We have noted that key questions remain unanswered in this process:

1- The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) should make public a full-cost analysis of the F-35 over the next 30 years. It could be $76.8 billion. The last review the PBO did – An Estimate of the Fiscal Impact of Canada’s Proposed Acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter – was done more than a decade ago in March 2011.

2- The Defence Department should disclose how much it has budgeted for missiles and bombs for the F-35 over the next 30 years.

3- The Defence Department should disclose the casualty figures from the estimated 1,598 offensive bombing missions against Iraq, Syria, Libya and Serbia conducted by the current fleet of CF-18s over the last 30 years.

4- The Defence Department should comment on the displacement of Dene people from their ancestral lands for the Cold Lake base where the F-35s will be situated.

5- Environment Canada should calculate and disclose the projected greenhouse gas emissions from 88 F-35s over the next 30 years.

6- Procurement Canada should release the full list of scenarios of potential fighter jet uses that the procurement panel based their recommendation on.

7- Procurement Canada should disclose when the United States granted its “ultimate certification” of Canada’s purchase of the F-35.

We continue to express concern about the offensive uses, costs, carbon pollution and displacement issues related to this warplane purchase.

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