Canada’s new jet set

After watching the new Top Gun, we’ve realized that fighter jets are super cool. We also suspect the timing of the government’s first jet order in three decades is no coincidence. 

What happened: The federal government has finalized the purchase of 88 highly-advanced F-35A fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, in a deal that is estimated to cost ~$19 billion.

  • Canada will purchase the jets in sets of 16, gradually replacing the Air Force’s outdated Boeing CF-18 Hornets until they are phased out completely in 2032. 

The feds were originally opposed to buying F-35As due to high costs but changed their tune after Lockheed offered the best deal compared to other military jet makers Saab and Boeing.  

Why it matters: Spending big on new jets signals an increased desire to gird up military capabilities in the face of rising tensions with China and potential Russian interference in the Arctic Circle. “Those obligations are important in the current global environment… We must be there for our partners, for our multilateral alliances,” said Canada’s Defence Minister. 

Yes, but:  By some standards, Canada is still chronically under-investing in defence. In 2006, NATO pushed for member nations to commit 2% of their GDP to defence spending, a target that Canada has never met that target and is not on track to meet any time soon.