More bad news for Canada’s F-35 purchase

Canadian Fighters

With the delays in the F-35 project mounting, pushing back a release date not only for the US military, but also for allied militaries who bought in, the US Air Force has implemented its backup plan, upgrading the current stock of F-16s.

The decision puts into question statements made by Canadian deputy defense minister Julian Fanitino.

On January 26, Fantino assured Canadians, “Information we have received indicates that the impact on Canada’s procurement plans is minimal at this stage.”

With the US taking alternative measures to maintain their own fleet, Fantino’s claims that the impact on Canada’s purchase would be minimal is beginning to look at minimum optimistic and perhaps even whimsical.

As the Ottawa Citizen’s David Pugliese reported in his military blog February 4, The US Air Force is now moving to modernize 350 of their F-16s in order to maintain what they believe to be optimal numbers for a fighting force given the delays with the Joint Strike Fighter.

Fantino’s claims that “less than 8 percent of the United States’s order will be reprofiled to a later production date,” now appears to be fanciful given the number of planes the US will be modernizing.

With the F-35 planned to replace the F-16 in the US, a modernization of this scale raises serious questions as to the viability of the project as a whole.