Fighter Discussions Back

Election has renewed F-35 speculation.
Election has renewed F-35 speculation.

Now that the federal election has been called, those hoping to supply Canada with new fighter aircraft are resuming their public relations dogfight.

In late July, Lockheed Martin executive VP Orlando Carvalho reiterated his company’s warning that unless Canada places an order for its F-35, Canadian aerospace companies stand to lose $10.5 billion in work on the aircraft.

“If in fact the Canadian government were to decide not to select the F-35 we will certainly honour the contracts that we have here with the Canadian industry but our approach in the future would be to try to do business with the industries that are in the countries that are buying the airplane,” he told the Montreal Gazette.

There are 72 Canadian companies working on F-35 contracts worth a total of $500 million.

Carvalho was in Montreal for a groundbreaking ceremony at new engine overhaul facility but he had plenty to say about the F-35. His comments came amid rumours that the latest report to the federal government on the cost of the program is that the cost continues to rise.

Carvalho refuted that notion, saying his company is constantly reducing production costs and if Canada’s aircraft hit the production line on the current schedule they’ll cost about $85 million each when they’re built in 2018.

“As we continue to gain the efficiency on the production line, the learning, as we continue to build more and more airplanes, as the production ramps up, the cost of this airplane will only come down,” he told the Gazette.

Meanwhile, Boeing officials say they’re confident that Canada will cancel its sole-source agreement with Lockheed Martin and open the fighter program for bids. If it does, Boeing CEO James McNerney said his company’s F/A-18 Super Hornet will be a strong competitor.