The federal government’s controversial purchase of 65 F-35 fighter jets took yet another hit this week when the Pentagon confirmed it had to postpone orders for 179 of the planes to save $15.1 billion and allow more time for testing. On Tuesday, Italy announced it was downsizing its order and the U.K. said it will wait until 2015 to decide on its purchase. The announcements will likely drive the price of the jets further up from the current $9-billion bill Ottawa faces. Under attack from the opposition, who says the government is considering delaying old-age security benefits while remaining stubbornly attached to the ever pricier fighter jets, the Conservative government announced it will be holding talks with the other jet buyers in the Canadian embassy in Washington, DC in March, something opposition MPs portrayed as a panicked move. While Defence Minister Peter Mackay admitted on Tuesday that the the F-35 program has been problematic in terms of timelines and costs, the National Post’s John Ivison says the government has found a potential solution to the problem: replacing the fighter jets with unmanned drones. According to unnamed sources, the Department of National Defence is preparing to tender a contract for drones similar to the ones the U.S. has been using in Afghanistan.