Canada’s second thoughts on F-35 Lightning show concerns about plane’s high cost

, Canada, land of “peace, order and good government.” Land of compromise and polite politics. Land of turmoil over whether to buy the F-35.

As in the United States, the fighter plane has become a rancorous political issue. What once looked like a sure buy of 65 planes has been bogged down by infighting and un-Canadian vitriol, and the purchase is on hold while Canadian officials consider whether to buy another plane.

The F-35 Lightning II is a U.S. plane, made by a U.S. company for the U.S. military. But if the cost for U.S. taxpayers is going to come down to levels that make the plane affordable in the long term, the Pentagon is depending on foreign governments to buy the F-35 as well.

From the beginning of the program, Defense Department officials signed up eight international partners, including Canada. Since then, they’ve crossed the globe looking for additional foreign government customers with some success. Japan and Israel have agreed to buy some of the planes, while South Korea appears likely to make the F-35 its next fighter jet as well.

But as Canada shows, not everyone is sold on what has become the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history. In addition to being a symbol of power, might and mind-bending technology, the next-generation Joint Strike Fighter has, to some, come to repr

Many thought that by now Canada would have decided whether to buy the planes — a move that would help drive down costs in the nearly $400 billion program — or instead force the plane’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, to compete for its business. But it’s now unclear when that will happen.

Some fear that if nations such as Canada balk, there could be questions about the long-term affordability of the program. Meanwhile, Boeing, one of Lockheed Martin’s fiercest competitors, has pounced on what it sees as an opportunity in Canada and other countries to tout its F/A-18 Super Hornet as a proven, affordable alternative.

esent waste and unwieldiness — in the United States and abroad.


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