Canada’s planned purchase of 65 American F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft could mean more than $12 billion in economic spinoff benefits to firms across Canada, a member of the federal cabinet said.
“We know that the JSF program stretches well beyond the 65 planes that Canada is purchasing,” said Denis Lebel, minister of state for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, yesterday as he addressed a conference put on by the manufacturer of the F-35 engines, Pratt and Whitney. Lebel told the conference that production of aircraft for partner countries could amount to as many as 3,100 planes.
Sales of F-35s to nations outside of the nine-country F-35 partnership could boost production to 5,000 planes, he said.
That means Canadian firms can get a crack at maintenance contracts for all 5,000 planes and not just those purchased by the federal government, Lebel said.
He called the opportunity “unprecedented” and said Pratt and Whitney’s “sustainment” conference represented a chance for Canadian firms to meet Pratt and Whitney officials and hear about their plans for F-35 sustainment activities.
On Monday, Industry Minister Tony Clement announced the federal government will contribute $300 million to a $1-billion research and development program that Pratt and Whitney is developing.
Lebel slammed opposition party criticism of the purchase.
“It’s time to stop playing political games,” he said.