Canada Still Unsure on F-35 Purchase, Italian PM Candidate Plans to Trim Orders
December 10, 2012 9:42 AM
The loss of the major partner in the F-35 program could be a death blow
The beleaguered F-35 Lightning II program keeps taking blows. Two partner countries, Canada and Italy, are now indicating the possibility of cutting orders for the F-35. Each time a partner nation slashes its orders, the price goes up for each jet purchased by other partner countries.
In April of 2012, the Canadian defense minister landed in
over allegations of not sharing information on expected costs the F-35 program. Canadian defense minister Peter MacKay admitted in April that he knew the fighter program could cost Canada as much as $25 billion. That price is billions of dollars more than Canadian officials publicly acknowledged.
At the time, Canadian lawmakers
put a cap on spending for the F-35 program
and this week more rumors have surfaced suggesting that Canada could drop the F-35 program entirely. While Canadian officials have dismissed any reports that it is planning to cancel the purchase of 65 F-35 fighters, some have gone on record saying that they were reconsidering the program and might compete the contract to replace Canada's aging CF-18 fighters.
Boeing, on the other hand, continues to lobby Canada to cancel orders for the F-35 and purchased the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
At the same time word that a leading Prime Minister candidate in Italy might trim F-35 purchases if elected to office. Italian Prime Minister candidate Pier Luigi Bersani is the man many expect to win the PM election in Italy. He said on time TV, "I would consider a relaxing, a reduction of the commitment to the F-35 and military spending."
Pentagon leaders continue to support existing U.S. orders for the F-35. U.S. leaders do say that they can afford to make cuts far in the future to keep near and mid-term production volume up. However, other countries don't have that luxury.
"The key point is that this doesn't just impact DoD, but it impacts all the partners," said Mark Gunzinger, of the CSBA, on potential cuts to international orders.
Britain is the largest international customer planning to purchase 138 F-35 fighters. However, British officials have previously suggested that they could reduce that number.
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