Canada has finalized a deal to buy 88 Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35As to replace 76 Boeing [BA] CF-18 Hornet fighters for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

More than nine months ago, Canada said it had begun negotiations with Lockheed Martin and the U.S. government to buy the F-35As under Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) (Defense Daily, March 28, 2022).

Canada is one of 17 countries that have chosen the F-35. The F-35A’s “forward presence will continue to ensure that potential adversaries choose diplomacy over armed conflict,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Schmidt, the program executive officer of the F-35 Joint Program Office, said in a Jan. 9 Lockheed Martin statement on the Canada sale.

Under the latter, Canada will receive the 88 F-35As, sustainment for them, and “a comprehensive training program,” Lockheed Martin said.

Canada said last spring that during the finalization phase negotiations, “the U.S. government and Lockheed Martin must successfully demonstrate that a resulting contract would meet all of Canada’s requirements and outcomes, including value for money, flexibility, protection against risks, and performance and delivery assurances, as well as high-value economic benefits for Canada’s aerospace and defence industry.”

Last last year, Canada said that it had rejected Boeing as a finalist in FFCP (Defense Daily, Dec. 2, 2021). After that announcement, Sweden’s Saab, offering the Gripen E, and Lockheed Martin were the remaining bidders.

In 2018, Canada announced five eligible suppliers to submit proposals for the FFCP–the U.K. and Airbus with the Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing with the Super Hornet, France’s Dassault with the Rafale, Lockheed Martin with the F-35, and Saab with the Griper E (Defense Daily, Feb. 23, 2018).

However, Dassault withdrew in 2018 and Airbus withdrew in 2019, partially over demanding intelligence data sharing and interoperability requirements.

Canada released the final request for proposals (RFP) for the FFCP in 2019 (Defense Daily, July 24, 2019).

Canada had wanted to replace the CF-18s with the F-35, but then-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2015 campaign promised not to buy the aircraft, and the government eventually started an open competition.

Then, in 2017, Canada said it planned to buy 18 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as part of an interim move before running the full fighter replacement competition.

However, after Boeing started a trade challenge against Canada’s Bombardier in the U.S. over complaints it sold a commercial airliner at artificially low prices, the Canada government responded by replacing the Super Hornets with 18 used Australian F/A-18 Hornets (Defense Daily, Dec. 12, 2017).

The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in favor of Bombardier and declined proposed U.S. duties on the company.

On Jan. 9, Lorraine Ben, chief executive of Lockheed Martin Canada, said in the company statement that Canada’s buy of the F-35A will sustain “critical jobs that will continue to equip Canadian workforces with advanced skills.”

“The F-35 program yields tremendous economic benefits for Canada’s aerospace and defence industry, and we look forward to continued growth,” she said.