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Canada election results threaten F-35 program

By Ryan Maass
Canada election results threaten F-35 program
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau campaigned heavily against the F-35 program, saying the jet is too expensive for Canadian security needs. Photo by Heinz Ruckemann/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- The Liberal Party's victory in Canada, replacing Stephen Harper with Justin Trudeau as prime minister after ten years of Conservative rule, may mean the end of Canada's F-35 program.

The F-35 Joint Strike fighter became a focal point of the security debate during the campaign. The country's government is exploring options for replacing the Royal Canadian Air Force's aging fleet of CF-18 Hornets. Liberal leader Trudeau argued the F-35 program would be a "nightmare" for Canadian taxpapers, citing the planned $16 billion cost for 65 jets.

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Incumbent Prime Minister Harper maintained the purchase would be good for Canada's defense industry, and a boon to the country's efforts to bolster its military capabilities, saying he didn't know "what planet" the Liberal Party was living on.

"We will not buy the F-35 stealth fighter-bomber," reads the Liberal Party platform for this election cycle. "We will immediately launch an open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 fighter aircraft. The primary mission of our fighter aircraft should remain the defence of North America, not stealth first-strike capability."

The Liberal Party favors lowering the procurement budget for the replacement. Boeing has offered the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, saying the jet is not only a proven fighter compared to Lockheed Martin's "paper airplane," but a cheaper alternative.

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