For months, opposition parties in Ottawa have been slamming the Conservatives for their insistence that Canada must replace its aging fleet of CF-18 fighter jets with American-made, Pentagon-approved—and massively expensive—F-35s.
But now, as the Auditor General is slated to release a scathing report on the government’s handling of the fighter jet file, the Tories are expected to re-examine the purchase of 65 Lockheed Martin-built F-35 fighter jets. The CBC is reporting that Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s report will say that officials inside the Defence Department misled government ministers on information relating to the jets, and that a special team of deputy ministers will be set up to manage the procurement.
The government will also place a $9-billion spending cap on the purchase of new jets.
Opposition parties have accused the Conservatives of misleading Canadians about the costs associated with these jets. The Tories insist that each plane will cost $75 million, but estimates from the America military, which is also purchasing the F-35s, place the cost per plane at $135 million.
Quoting anonymous government sources, the Globe and Mail is reporting that the Conservatives aren’t looking to scrap the F-35 purchase, but are instead hoping to shift the acquisition schedule so that the planes can be bought during low-cost production years. They’re also looking at ways to ensure Canada’s existing fleet can last longer.