Canadian election could mean higher fighter aircraft price tag for S. Korea

Posted on : 2015-10-22 17:05 KST Modified on : 2015-10-22 17:05 KST
Victorious Liberal Party had pledged to cancel Canada’s plans to purchase aircrafts from Lockheed Martin
Newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks after his election victory
Newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks after his election victory

The Canadian federal election on Oct. 19 saw a landslide victory for the Liberal Party, which had previously pledged to cancel plans for the purchase of next-generation F-35 fighter aircrafts made by the US company Lockheed Martin.

The cost of South Korea’s purchase of the fighter is now expected to rise if the purchase is canceled by Canada, one of the aircraft’s co-developers.

According to the Canadian public broadcasting network CBC, election results on Oct. 20 showed a victory for the center-left Liberal Party under leader Justin Trudeau, 43. The party will be replacing the Conservatives, who have been in power for the past decade.

The Liberal Party emerged with a 54.4% majority, taking 184 out of 338 seats in the House of Commons. Trudeau is set to take office as the next Prime Minister at a new House session.

The next question is whether Trudeau will cancel the purchase of F-35 fighters once in office. In a speech on Sept. 20, Trudeau said he would cancel the expensive F-35 purchase and select a different model, investing the difference in beefing up the country’s naval forces.

Canada is one of eight countries involved in developing the F-35, and the cancellation of its purchase, if it happens, is expected to cause setbacks in Lockheed Martin‘s sales plan for the aircraft.

Canada joined the F-35 development program and in 1997, with 33 of its companies currently supplying parts to Lockheed Martin.

The Canadian government previously announced plans in 2010 to purchase 65 F-35s at a cost of CADS$9 billion, or the equivalent of around 10 trillion won.

But the purchase has been the subject of some controversy, with the opposition demanding an exact price tag after development and production delays have led to rising costs. A cost calculation commissioned by Ottawa from an independent organization showed a thirty-year cost of CAD$44.8 billion, including maintenance. The government previously decided to postpone the purchase in late 2012 as the opposition outcry intensified.

The Conservative Party had planned to go ahead once again with the F-35 purchase if it won the federal election.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 sales follow the US’s foreign military sales (FMS) format. Unit production costs decrease as more aircraft are sold and increase when sales are fewer. Lockheed Martin has been planning for sales of around 3,000 aircraft, although experts have predicted far fewer.

South Korea has signed a contract to purchase 40 F-35s starting in 2018.

By Park Hyun, staff reporter

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