A group that represents Canadian companies involved in the F-35 program say abandoning plans to buy the oft-maligned stealth fighter would endanger contracts and jobs.
Justin Trudeau has said a Liberal government would exit the multibillion-dollar program and opt for a less expensive jetfighter to replace the country's aging fleet of CF-18s.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says that would "crater" the aerospace industry – even though the Pentagon's head of acquisitions says Canadian companies already participating in the program would likely retain their contracts.
In a statement released today, the Canadian Joint Industry Group says existing "opportunities and future technological advancements will be in jeopardy" if the plan to buy 65 F-35 fighters is scrubbed.
The federal government estimated earlier this year that 33 Canadian companies were working on the program, bringing in an estimated $637-million per year in revenue, but the industry group says the figure is now $750-million.
The group also says state-of-the-art manufacturing expertise would be lost to wider Canadian industry because the stealth fighter is full of advanced technology that could eventually have civilian applications.