The 2016 Abbotsford International Airshow will host the F-35 in Canada for the very first time.
The aircraft is set to arrive at Abbotsford International Airport on Thursday, August the 11th and will be on public display at the airshow starting the 12th through to the 14th.
In the country’s last election, the Liberal Party said it wouldn’t buy the F-35 earmarked by the previous administration, on cost grounds. This is despite many warning that the Super Hornet would cost the same or even more than the F-35 over the life of the aircraft while delivering lesser capability.
The cost of the F-35A is decreasing yearly and by a significant volume due to economies of scale.
Oddly, the decision is based on a campaign promise made in late 2015 by then-prime ministerial candidate Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party to not buy the F-35A, as the RCAF had originally planned.
Canada has been involved in the Joint Strike Fighter Program from its beginning, investing US$10 million to be an “informed partner” during the evaluation process. Once Lockheed Martin was selected as the primary contractor for the JSF program, Canada elected to become a level 3 participant, along with Norway, Denmark, Turkey and Australia. An additional US$100 million from the Canadian Department of National Defence over 10 years and another $50 million from Industry Canada were dedicated in 2002, making them an early participant of the JSF program.
On 16 July 2010, the Canadian government announced that it would buy 65 F-35s to replace the existing 80 CF-18s for $16B (with all ancillary costs included) with deliveries planned for 2016.
There is precedent for purchasing Super Hornets on an interim basis; Australia bought 24 of the aircraft about five years ago for $2.5 billion, to replace that country’s antiquated F-111 jets until newer F-35s were ready. It’s likely Canada may be following this tactic according to a number of Canadian personnel we spoke to.
Despite this perhaps interim measure, the Liberals have refused to publicly rule out buying the F-35 since winning the election.