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Germany signs deal to buy F-35s, while Canada has yet to finalize contract for the jet

By Skies Magazine | December 14, 2022

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 51 seconds.

Germany has officially received approval to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II, as part of a project to replace the German Air Force’s aging fleet of Tornado jets — which have been operating since the 1980s.

The country announced its selection of the F-35 in March, but required final approval by parliament’s budget committee. On Dec. 14, the German Ministry of Defense confirmed that it is moving forward with the procurement of 35 of the fifth-generation jets, worth €10 billion (US$10.7 billion).

Canada selected the F-35A as the top-ranked bidder in the Future Fighter Capability Project, but contracts have not yet been finalized. Glenn Watson Photo

The deal also includes “a comprehensive package of engines, role-specific mission equipment, spare and replacement parts, technical and logistic support, training, and armament,” Lockheed Martin said.

Germany’s project to acquire F-35 jets is part of a €100 billion-euro (US$106 billion) fund that Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced just days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. The goal is to revamp the country’s underfunded military.

Deliveries of the F-35 to Germany are expected to take place between 2026 and 2029, while the Tornados are to be phased out between 2025 and 2030.

Shortly after Germany announced its selection of the F-35 in March, Canada also announced the F-35 as the top-ranked bidder in the Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF’s) CF-188 Hornets. Canada has said it intends to buy 88 F-35As. However, there is still no formal contract in place.

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) began negotiations with U.S.-based Lockheed Martin in late March, stating that “there is still work to be done before a contact can be awarded.”

Lockheed and the U.S. government have been tasked with demonstrating that the F-35 can meet Canada’s requirements, “including value for money, flexibility, protection against risks, and performance and delivery assurances, as well as high-value economic benefits for Canada’s aerospace and defence industry,” said Filomena Tassi, Minister of PSPC.

“If these items cannot be finalized with the top-ranked bidder, Canada has the right to move to the next ranked bidder.”

The F-35 was competing against Sweden-based Saab’s Gripen E jet, which would be considered the next ranked bidder. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet was also a contender up until December 2021, when the Canadian government confirmed that the Boeing-built fighter aircraft was no longer in the running.

It is currently anticipated that contracts for Canada’s acquisition of 88 F-35 jets are to be signed by the end of this year, or early 2023, with the first delivery slated for 2025.

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