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5 février 2012 7 05 /02 /février /2012 12:35


F-35 Lightning II canada photo Ahunt 


February 4, 2012. David Pugliese - Defence Watch


Opposition members in the Commons have failed to pry out details from Associated Defence Minister Julian Fantino of any plan the Canadian Forces/DND has to deal with delays in the delivery of the F-35.


Mr. Fantino has stuck to his pre-approved lines, which essentially state that Canada is monitoring the situation but that the F-35 program is proceeding as planned. There are no concerns at the Canadian end about F-35 delays as well as U.S. plans to slow down the arrival/purchase of the planes.


But in the U.S. and other countries that plan to operate the F-35, contingency plans are being put in place for the expected delays in the delivery of the stealth aircraft.


The U.S. Air Force confirmed Thursday it will move ahead with a $2.8 billion upgrade of about 350 of its aging F-16 multi-role fighter planes. According to reports that upgrade will help offset the F-35 delays and the Pentagon plan to slow down purchases of the joint strike fighter.


The idea behind the upgrade is to extend the service life of selected F-16 airframes. Other upgrades include advanced radar, sensors, cockpit display, electronic warfare and communications capabilities, according to Reuter’s news agency.


“We have worked through the implications of the delays in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program,” Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told a meeting of the Air Force Association. “And we have made a further commitment this year to modernize about 350 F-16s in the fleet going forward.”


The upgraded F-16s would receive active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.


“Overall, the program will run into the 2020s and have an estimated total cost of $2.8 billion,” a U.S. Air Force spokesperson said in an emailed reply to queries from Reuters about Donley’s remarks.


The Air Force will pick the “best of the fleet” to undergo the modernization for later-model Block 50 and some Block 40 F-16s, the email noted. The program is “scalable” based on the service’s fighter needs.

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