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  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Martin will sell 65 F-35 aircraft to Canada, with other nations expected to sign some checks

Lockheed Martin recently announced it will sell 65 F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter) aircraft to Canada, as the company continues to battle development and cost issues in the United States.

Lockheed Martin believes this partnership with the Canadian government "could also start a series of long-awaited orders from JSF partner nations," said Richard Aboulafia, and this is "the first export customer commitment for a production batch of F-35s."

Canada is buying the cheapest model JSF, but the aircraft will still cost around $50 million per F-35.  The decision to purchase as many as 65 has led to criticism from Canada's Liberal Party -- group members saying it's an irresponsible purchase at this time.

Even though the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps plan to utilize the next-generation JSF aircraft, there have been numerous issues along the way.  Late last month, it was also announced that the Lighting II may not be the ideal aircraft, but that remains to be seen.

Additional U.S. allies will also have access to the JSF, with the U.S. already offering it to Israel, while several other nations have expressed interest.  However, there is concern from Lockheed Martin that order numbers could drop in the future if current problems aren't solved as soon as possible.

U.S. military officials are under increased pressure to control their budget, and the costly F-35 is seen as less important since there are so many lingering issues with the program.

Meanwhile, the F-35 Lightning II was tested by the US Navy for the first time in June -- a major step forward for Lockheed Martin -- but the government contractor must answer constant  from lawmakers and military officials.





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