Canada to spend $7.3 billion on F-35 fighter-bomber bases in Alberta, Quebec, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Labrador

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: An F-35 warplane at the northernmost US Air Force Base located 1,200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle.

CBC reports: “Canada plans to invest $7.3 billion to upgrade its fighter jet bases and Far North landing strips to accommodate the air force’s new F-35s, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Friday [March 24] at the conclusion of a visit by U.S. President Joe Biden.”

That article adds: “As for upgrades to the two main fighter jet bases and the purchase of air-to-air refueling planes to support the F-35s, those projects aren’t expected to be ready until 2029. The air force has four northern landing strips, at Inuvik, Yellowknife, Iqaluit and Goose Bay. Improvements to those runways aren’t set to be completed for another 11 years.”

The two main fighter jet bases refer to CFB Cold Lake on Dene territory in Alberta and CFB Bagotville in Quebec. The landing strips, as the paragraph above notes, are in Inuvik, Yellowknife (Northwest Territories), Iqaluit (Nunavut) and Goose Bay (Labrador).

Photo of F-35 by Lockheed Martin.

Adding up the costs

In February 2021, the No Fighter Jets Coalition released this report that estimated the lifecycle costs of the fighter jet purchase at $76.8 billion.

In January 2023, Department of National Defence officials acknowledged the total cost would be about $70 billion.

Both estimates may be on the low side.

The No Fighter Jets Coalition report assumed the cost of munitions had been factored into the estimated acquisition cost. Last month, an Ottawa Citizen headline read: More than $6 billion earmarked for F-35 weapons – cost separate from aircraft purchase.

The coalition report also noted that “so far, $21.3 million has been awarded in infrastructure contracts” but that “much more could be spent”. From the CBC report, it appears we can also adjust the $21.3 million figure to $7.3 billion.

And at the time the report was released, the Canadian government had paid $689 million into the development of the F-35. With subsequent payments, the $689 million development figure is now closer to $955 million.

These updates might suggest an additional $13.9 billion could be added to the initial estimate of $76.8 billion two years ago.

A Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) report on the total cost of the F-35 warplane purchase is expected in the coming weeks.

Further reading:

National Defence to spend $6.3 billion on air-to-air missiles for F-35 warplanes (February 13, 2023)

Canada has paid $955 million for the development of the F-35 fighter-bomber with nuclear strike capabilities (January 11, 2023)

Canadian government provides more than $525 million for housing – warplanes (December 23, 2022)

What impact will Canadian F-35 warplanes at CFB Goose Bay have on Innu territory in Labrador? (February 21, 2023)

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