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F-35 fighter jet fleet welcomed by local leaders

“It's an airplane that we desperately need,” said Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland regarding the federal government's decision to replace Canada's fleet of CF-18s.
A CF-18 Hornet takes off during Maple Flag international exercises at 4 Wing in June. After 17 years in service, the government announced plans to replace the CF-18 fleet
A CF-18 Hornet takes off during Maple Flag international exercises at 4 Wing in June. After 17 years in service, the government announced plans to replace the CF-18 fleet with F-35 Lightning II Fighter Jets.

“It's an airplane that we desperately need,” said Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland regarding the federal government's decision to replace Canada's fleet of CF-18s. “It's a great move that the Canadian government is going to step forward and start replacing the planes.”

The government recently announced plans to build 65 new F-35 Lighting II Strike Fighter jets to secure Canada's skies and replace the fleet of CF-18s by 2016. The fighter jets come at a cost of $9 billion, but are expected to cost $18 billion with maintenance.

“Our guys deserve to be flying the latest and greatest piece of equipment. It's good news for 4 Wing and for the rest of the air force,” Copeland said. “I think it's a great morale booster. I think it's exciting and it will probably attract even more people to want to fly with an aircraft.”

“We have the best fighter pilots in the world but these planes are going on 30 or 40 years old. By 2020 most of our current fighter jets, their airframes are going to be used to the maximum and no longer safe to fly, so we have to move forward on this,” said Westlock-St. Paul MP Brian Storseth.

“We absolutely need this in Canada.”

Storseth said the new generation of aircraft should be acquired as soon as possible for the safety of Canada's armed forces. He added that a lot people don't realize how many Russian airplanes are flying over the ice caps and that it's the pilots in Cold Lake that are going up and turning them back.

“Canadians deserve the best equipment possible to do that. Fighter aircrafts are tremendously important in our country and in our defence. In a country the size of ours, you need that capability.”

“At some point you have to upgrade because the ones we have now are old. For a country the size of Canada, 65 jets is not huge,” agreed Reeve Ed Rondeau. “It's a lot of money in one shot but it's not a huge amount of National Defence. Wars are now fought mostly in the air and from these type of aircrafts.”