If Canada withdraws from the $1.3 trillion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which the incoming Liberal Party government has said it will do, costs for other countries participating in the program will be driven up, according to the head of the F-35 Joint Program Office, a department within Lockheed Martin. The cost per aircraft for each country is expected to rise by about $1 million if Canada opts to leave the program.
Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, chief of the Joint Program Office, told a U.S. House Armed Services subcommittee Thursday that Canada’s withdrawal would not hurt the aircraft’s development program. Instead, international partners would be forced to absorb Canada’s 2.1 percent share, according to a Defense News report Thursday.
“If any partner, or any service, moves airplanes to the right, takes airplanes out, the price of the airplane for all the other partners and all the other services goes up,” Bogdan told the subcommittee on tactical air and land forces. “We have estimated the increase in price is 0.7 to 1 percent [or] about a million dollars a copy for everybody else.”
Those added costs, while only a small percentage of aircraft that are valued at $85 million to $116 million apiece, add up when it's considered that some countries are looking to buy as many as 140 of them. The United States, which is fronting most of the development costs, is expected to buy more than 2,000 of the stealth aircraft.
Canada’s withdrawal from the F-35 program, which could come just days after the Liberal Party swept to a landslide victory in Monday's election, was promised in the Justin Trudeau-led party’s manifesto. Canada was expected to buy 65 F-35s at a cost of around $8 billion.
“The primary mission of our fighter aircraft should remain the defense of North America, not stealth first-strike capability,” said a Liberal Party report from Oct. 5. “We will make investing in the Royal Canadian Navy a top priority. By purchasing more affordable alternatives to the F-35s, we will be able to invest in strengthening our navy.”
It’s believed that a number of Canadian companies that were supposed to produce some of the parts for the aircraft will be affected, according to Bogdan.