U.S. cuts will impact F-35 plan: MacKay
OTTAWA - The Harper government's plan to buy the oft-maligned F-35 fighter is expected to face another blow with the series of deep spending cuts about to unfold in the United States.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay says the cuts, known as sequestration, could affect "specific military procurements" in this country.
MacKay told a breakfast event at the Economic Club of Canada that the cuts could slow down the production line of "certain aircraft and certain procurements that we have a direct interest in."
Canada's purchase of 65 jets has been put on hold while a Public Works secretariat overseeing the replacement of the existing CF-18 fighter fleet looks at alternatives and their potential cost.
The long-delayed and costly F-35 program is considered by U.S. lawmakers a prime target for the budget axe; a production slowdown would be a problem for Canada, since the CF-18s will be considered exhausted by 2020.
MacKay says he hopes to speak with new U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel to get a better idea of how the cuts will shake out.