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Canada to spend $14 billion to buy F-35 fighter jets from US

An F-35 jet fighter lands at the Vermont Air National Guard base in South Burlington, Vermont. (Photo by AP)

Canada is purchasing 88 F-35 fighter jets from the United States to replace its aging fleet for 19 billion Canadian dollars (US$14.2 billion), the largest military spending in 30 years.

Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand cited Russia’s war with Ukraine and China’s activities in the Indo-Pacific region as the reasons for Ottawa to confirm the purchase order that was announced last March by the Canadian government.

"As our world grows darker, with Russia's illegal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, and China's increasingly assertive behavior in the Indo-Pacific, this project has taken on heightened significance," Anand said, AFP reported.

"This is the moment that we need to ensure the defense of our country... including our Arctic," she said.

US companies Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney will deliver the first aircraft in 2026 and the entire fleet between 2032 and 2034, according to Ottawa’s agreement with Washington.

Other countries, including Germany and Switzerland, have signed contracts in recent months for the F-35, which was grounded by the United States and the Israeli regime after a crash involving a model of the aircraft.

The December 15 incident saw an F-35B crashing on the runway at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Texas as it was reportedly undergoing a test of its hovering capabilities. The pilot ejected safely before the crash, which took place as the plane was landing vertically.

According to The Hill, there have been several other F-35 incidents over the past year, including an accident that involved the fifth-generation fighter aircraft crashing into the ocean in January.

Seven US sailors were injured during the January "landing mishap" that featured a Navy F-35C warplane on an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea, the Navy said at the time.

Canada has often purchased US military equipment in the past to ensure interoperability with its NATO allies and NORAD, the North American defense organization.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had pledged when he came to power in 2015 not to buy the F-35 due to its high cost.

"Canada is confident that the F-35 represents the best fighter jet for our country at the best price for Canadians," Anand said Monday.

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