Joint Strike Fighter purchase could cost $16 billion

$250 million, the estimated cost of one F-35 fighter

One quarter of a billion dollars, the estimated cost of one F-35 fighter

The Globe and Mail is reporting that the estimated full cost of the government’s plan to buy 65 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters is $16 billion (Daniel Leblanc, “Harper bending to U.S. on sole-source fighter purchase, documents reveal,” Globe and Mail, 11 June 2010):

Officials at National Defence and Public Works refused Thursday to discuss the complete price tag for the new fighter jets, saying it “would be premature to discuss the details of a procurement, including cost figures and timelines.”

However, documents show that the cost of the acquisition is $8.99-billion, “along with sustainment services for 20 years valued at $6.93-billion.” In addition, the government is predicting that the operating costs to fly the stealth fighters over two decades will reach $9.6-billion.

Pressure from allies is cited as one of the reasons the government would like to proceed with sole-source procurement of the aircraft.

One of the government’s major arguments is that a competition could hurt Canada’s reputation among the other countries that have been involved in Lockheed-Martin’s massive Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program since the 1990s.

The U.S. military is planning to buy more than 2,000 jets, and other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom are also involved in the project. If Canada does not buy F-35s, officials say, it will be straying from the path followed by its “major allies” well into the middle of the century.

“Competitive process would send signal to US/partners that we are not fully committed to JSF,” stated the Canadian government, which has been involved since 1997.

Further coverage

Daniel Leblanc, “Tories sidestep promise of opening jet purchase to competitive bids,” Globe and Mail, 11 June 2010

Tags: Defence policy, F-35, Joint Strike Fighter, Military procurement