Peter Mackay says $10 billion gap in F-35 cost estimates is a matter of accounting

Fuel, oil, maintenance and salaries make up the difference, according to the Minister of Defence

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Canada’s Defence Minister, Peter Mackay, said he had known since 2010 of the $25-billion price tag for the F-35 fighter jets. Mackay, however, claimed the $10-billion difference between what the federal government estimated since before last year’s election and the figures now being discussed is a matter of accounting. Mackay made the comments on CTV’s Question Period on Sunday, after the Government spent most of last week taking fire from the opposition over the issue of the cost to develop and replace Canada’s aging F-18 fighter jets.

An Auditor-General report on the issue released last week slammed the Conservative Government over the purchase process for the new planes, saying the National Defence Department mismanaged the purchase, low-balled the costs and hid information from Parliament. Later in the week, Auditor-General Michael Ferguson, suggested the government should have known the new jets would cost $10 billion more than announced, but Mackay said the $10-billion difference lies in whether jet fuel, oil, upkeep and pilots’ pay make part of the estimated cost. Mackay, whose resignation was called for by Liberal leader Bob Rae, also warned that pulling out of the program to develop the planes would probably involve costs to the Canadian government.