Canada’s Impact on the F-35

Farnborough, UK The F-35 program is not immediately changing based on Canada’s recent decision to reevaluate its purchase of the fighter, senior program and defense officials said at the Farnborough Air Show. Pentagon acquisition, technology, and logistics chief Frank Kendall, at a Monday press conference to discuss the program’s progress, said there’s “no rule” that says Canada must be stripped of its workshare if it withdraws from the program. However, if Canada actually opts to do so, it will likely be a topic for the other international partners to “talk about.” Broadly, workshare, which is determined by prime contractor Lockheed Martin, is “permanent until it’s not the ‘best value’ arrangement,” Kendall said. If Canada does pull out, no existing contracts would be stopped, but new ones would have to be looked at much more carefully, he said. Canadian industries hold about $750 million worth of F-35 contracts, and stand to make more than 10 times that if the program produces at already-agreed on levels. Canada is reportedly looking at replacing its aging F/A-18 fleet with newer F/A-18 Super Hornets or possibly holding a competition. Kendall emphasized, however, that in addition to being the most advanced fighter available, the fifth generation F-35 will also be available at a price competitive with generation four-plus fighters. In 2018, the target unit cost for the conventional takeoff model is $85 million. Kendall acknowledged, however, that taking out Canada’s jets could affect the unit price because the price is dependent on “economies of scale.” It’s all premature, however, Kendall said. Canada “will make their decision in their own time.”