The sixty-five F-35 joint strike fighters currently being built to replace Canada’s F-18 jets will cost $100 million each, $25 million more than government estimates, according to an official at a U.S. budget watchdog. Mike Sullivan, director of acquisition management at the U.S. General Accountability Office, disputed the Conservative government’s $75 million per plane estimate on CBC’s Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, saying it lacked a proper methodology. The government has maintained that the total cost would be around $9 billion with training and an additional $200-$300 million a year in maintenance costs. “That is not a number I am familiar with at all,” said Sullivan. Conservative MP Laurie Hawn admitted that the government may have been wrong on the initial cost of the new jets, but that Canada was buying them at the peak of their production curve, making them cheaper than U.S. budget estimates. While Sullivan agreed that buying jets later in the production run makes them relatively cheaper, he noted that Canada is set to have the jets delivered in 2016, which is early.
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