Feb. 13, 2012 defense-aerospace.com
(Source: Vancouver Sun; published Feb. 10, 2012)
WASHINGTON --- Washington's plan to further slow production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is prompting Canada to convene a meeting with seven other international partners as the countries
rethink their own orders for the stealthy new fighter jet.
Canada has committed to purchasing as many as 65 of the planes, but delays and shrinking orders threaten to drive up costs each country must bear for what is already the most expensive weapon system in history.
The Pentagon is restructuring the program for the third time in recent years; a move that will delay savings that would come from building more planes faster.
In January, Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino said in a statement the Canadian government is still committed to the F-35 program, but that he had ordered Defence Department officials in Ottawa to investigate what implications the Pentagon's decision would have on Canada.
International partners who were banking on the savings as they face their own budget pressures are balking at the shift, according to multiple government and industry sources in the U.S. and overseas.
Lockheed Martin Corp., the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier, and U.S. officials who run the $382-billion US weapons program are anxiously preparing for a meeting in Australia in mid-March where the partners - Canada, Britain, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Australia, Turkey and the Netherlands - will outline their revamped procurement plans.
But Canada has tentatively scheduled a meeting of the partners at its embassy in Washington before the Australian meeting to get an update on the program and better coordinate their approach.
Each U.S. restructuring has consequences for the partners, which have already chipped in hundreds of millions of dollars for development of the fighter, which was sold as an affordable way to replace a dozen older jets in use around the world. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Daily Mail website.