A new report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer reveals that Canadian taxpayers can expect to spend up to $73.9 billion over the next 45 years to own and operate a fleet of F-35 fighter jets. This figure encompasses the entire life cycle of the advanced aircraft, including development, preparation, operations, and disposal. The estimate closely aligns with the Department of National Defence’s projection of around $70 billion.
Initial deliveries of the planned 88 aircraft are set to begin in 2026, with a gradual increase to a maximum of 18 per year by 2029. The final tranche is anticipated for 2032. This decision follows a lengthy debate about the replacement for the aging CF-18 jets, which were purchased in the 1980s.
Previously, the Liberal government announced a cost of $19 billion for the acquisition phase alone, according to the former defence minister, Anita Anand. However, the overall operations and sustainment phase is estimated to make up the bulk of the expenses, amounting to $53.8 billion.
This latest cost projection significantly differs from the initial estimate presented by the former Conservative government 13 years ago. At that time, it was suggested that the total expenditure over a 20-year period would be $29 billion. However, this estimate was met with skepticism and criticized by the parliamentary budget officer at the time, prompting the shelving of the proposal.
Despite the prevailing concerns surrounding the financial implications, the Canadian government has now moved forward with the decision to acquire the U.S.-manufactured stealth fighters. The final aircraft is expected to be retired by 2060-61, marking the end of its useful life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What is the total projected cost to own and operate the F-35 fighter jets?
The expected cost for Canadian taxpayers is up to $73.9 billion over the next 45 years, encompassing the entire life cycle of the aircraft.
2. When will the first F-35 aircraft be delivered?
The first four of the planned 88 aircraft are scheduled to arrive in 2026, with steady yearly increases until a maximum of 18 per year in 2029.
3. How does this cost estimate compare to previous projections?
The current cost projection significantly surpasses the initial estimate of $29 billion made 13 years ago by the former Conservative government.
4. What is the breakdown of costs between acquisition and operations?
The acquisition phase is projected to cost $19.8 billion, while the operations and sustainment phase is estimated at $53.8 billion.
5. When will the final F-35 aircraft be retired?
The last aircraft is expected to be retired in 2060-61, marking the end of its useful life.