Canadian military unable to refuel new jets in mid-air

Cost of F-35 purchase likely to include additional costs

Canada’s new F-35 fighter jets, purchased at an estimated cost of between $16 billion and $21 billion, cannot be refueled while airborne using equipment the military has on hand, meaning Ottawa may have to spend several hundred million more dollars on additional equipment and modifications. The F-35 purchase was touted by the Conservatives as a necessary step in modernizing Canada’s military capacity. But the current Polaris transport aircraft that handles the refueling of the existing CF-18 fighters are not equipped to handle the new F-35s. As a result, Canada may have to buy a new fleet of tanker aircraft that can fuel the new jets in the air, in addition to installing drag chutes, as the F-35 cannot land on the shorter runways in Canada’s north. The purchase of the new planes was the biggest military procurement in Canada’s history. But the opposition has accused the Conservative government of entering a non-competitive bidding process with the Pentagon, and as a result has ignored a number of questions about the development, capabilities and overall cost of the purchase.

Ottawa Citizen

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.