Moose Jaw – Lake Centre – Lanigan MP Fraser Tolmie is saying that the federal government’s purchase of new F-35 fighter jets is long overdue.
Defense Minister Anita Anand officially made the announcement on Monday.
Talks of purchasing the Lockheed Martin fighter jet began as far back as 2010 to replace the aging fleet of CF-18s. Tolmie personally felt the purchase should have been made in 2014.
“It is a necessary purchase for updating and upgrading our Royal Canadian Air Force and updating our air defence of Canada and potential commitments that we may have worldwide,” he said.
Tolmie said the Stephen Harper government was prepared to purchase the jets. However, when the 2015 federal election came around the Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau campaigned on not making the purchase. The prime minister has now gone back on that campaign promise.
Tolmie, who is the Deputy Shadow Minister of Veteran Affairs, is a former RCAF officer who served at 15 Wing Moose Jaw. He says he’s flown in the CF-18 and it was a great airplane, but the purchase of the F-35s will keep Canada’s air force relevant.
“People are looking to Canada more and more nowadays with this unstable global environment that we're living in and we have to be able to be there, to be able to help and protect and defend Canadian values,” he said.
Many pilots who graduate from the flight school at 15 Wing Moose Jaw move on to Cold Lake, Alta. to fly CF-18s and they will soon have the latest technology with the F-35 fighter jets.
The government has budgeted $19 billion for the purchase of 88 F-35 aircraft with an estimated lifecycle cost of $70 billion. Each jet is estimated to cost $85 million US. The first aircraft is expected to arrive in 2026, but will not be operational until 2029.
Canadian allies including the United States, United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands and Australia have already announced plans to use the F-35. You can learn more about the aircraft on Lockheed Martin's website.