OTTAWA – Canada is being forced to shoulder a bigger share of the cost of developing F-35 fighter jets even though it has not decided whether it will actually buy any.
Canada is one of nine partner countries in the F-35 project, all of which are required to cover a portion of the stealth fighter's development costs to stay at the table.
Each country pays based on the number of F-35s it's expecting to buy, and Canada's pitched in over half-a-billion dollars over the past 20 years, including $ 54 million last year.
But that amount was based on the Stephen Harper government's plan to buy 65 new fighter jets to replace Canada's aging CF-18s, which the government Trudeau has since officially increased to 88.
Even though Canada has not committed that those 88 jets will be F-35s, Defense Department officials say that change means it will have to pay more to remain a partner – including about $ 72 million this year.
The government has said plans to keep Canada in the F-35 development effort until a replacement for the CF-18s is selected, which will not happen for two or three more years.