The federal government has created a new office to handle the thorny issue of fulfilling the Liberal’s promise to scrap the F-35 multi-role combat aircraft program while seeking a cheaper replacement for the military’s CF-18 fighter jets.
Paula Folkes-Dallaire, a senior officer from the Fisheries department was named Monday as senior director of the Future Fighter Capability project which will be run under Public Services and Procurement Canada, according to a report from the Ottawa Citizen.
The report said Folkes-Dallaire, was previously a senior officer with the Fisheries department.
There were no details as to how many personnel the office will have.
Folke’s-Dallaire’s team will be working with the National Defence as well as the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada “to implement the government’s direction,” according to a Public Services and Procurement Canada spokesperson.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the government will withdraw from the F-35 program and instead hold a competition for a less costly fighter plane to replace the military’s aging CF-18 fleet.
Last Friday, the government released mandate letters to its ministers.
In a mandate letter to the minister of defence and minister of public services and procurement, Trudeau instructed them to collaborate on an “open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 fighter aircraft, focusing on options that match Canada’s defence needs.”
Back in 2010, the former Conservative government announced plans to purchase 65 units of the Lockheed-Martin-made F-35 warplanes for $16 billion over a period of 20 years.
However, subsequent inquiries by the auditor general and parliamentary budget officer revealed that the actual cost could balloon to $44.6 billion over 42 years if operations and sustainability costs were figured in.
The F-35 is facing some opposition in the United States as well. Some American lawmakers have raised concerns that the plan is far too costly and will likely not be able to fulfill the U.S. military’s requirements.