Lockheed may shift F-35 fighter work away from Canada

Fri Jun 10, 2016 11:44am EDT
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By Andrea Shalal

BERLIN (Reuters) - Top U.S. weapons maker Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N: Quote) is studying whether to shift work on its multibillion-dollar F-35 fighter jet away from Canadian firms amid uncertainty over Ottawa's plans to buy the jet.

Jack Crisler, Lockheed's vice president of business development for the F-35 program, told Reuters Lockheed was under pressure from other partner countries that had placed firm orders or accelerated orders to shift more work to them.

"This is not anything punitive. It is just business," he said in a telephone interview from the Netherlands, where the F-35 will fly in its first international air show on Saturday.

Canadian firms will account for development and production work on the F-35 program worth about $1 billion by the end of 2016, Crisler said.

But future work could be in jeopardy if Canada decides to skip a competition and order F/A-18E/F fighter jets built by rival Boeing Co (BA.N: Quote), as indicated by recent Canadian media reports, he said.

A spokeswoman for Canada's defense ministry said the reports were not accurate, but gave no further information.

Crisler said Lockheed had been unable to secure a meeting with the Canadian government to discuss the issue.

He said F-35 supply chain contracts were competitively awarded in rough proportion to the purchase plans of the nine original partner countries that helped fund development of the radar-evading jet: the United States, Britain, Canada, Turkey, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Australia and Denmark.   Continued...

An F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter takes off on a training sortie at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida in this March 6, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/U.S. Air Force photo/Randy Gon/Handout