Canada, along with others, is along for the F35 ride. It's been a controvercial program.
Indeed, the jet is impressive on paper. The A and C models (landplane and catapult carrier plane) are fairly conventional machines with some very modern (mostly stealth and weapons control related) features.
The B is the vertical lift version....
All variants have been pushed FAR overbudget, and at least the B and C have troubles I'm aware of.
The B pays a huge range and performance penalty for having vertical lift capability. The system is complicated, heavy and takes up a large volume in the fuse.
The C version has geometry problems with carrier landing.... Very worrying ones that have thus far made carrier traps rather unsuccessful.
Canada is to purchase an F35A variant. Much worry over the reliability of single engine jets in the remote north. We've had troubles with this in the past, with F104's...
Here's a list from November '11 of known troubles with this jet:
- The helmet-mounted display system does not work properly.
- The fuel dump subsystem poses a fire hazard.
- The Integrated Power Package is unreliable and difficult to service.
- The F-35C's arresting hook does not work.
- Classified "survivability issues", which have been speculated to be about stealth.
- The wing buffet is worse than previously reported.
- The airframe is unlikely to last through the required lifespan.
- The flight test program has yet to explore the most challenging areas.
- The software development is behind schedule.
- The aircraft is in danger of going overweight or, for the F-35B, not properly balanced for VTOL operations.
- There are multiple thermal management problems. The air conditioner fails to keep the pilot and controls cool enough, the roll posts on the F-35B overheat, and using the afterburner damages the aircraft.
- The automated logistics information system is partially developed.
- The lightning protection on the F-35 is uncertified, with areas of concern.
That's a list of some fairly serious problems this far into development. Took it from Wikipedia.
Alot of folks both in Canada and the UK (the major partner) feel Super Hornets would have been a much better deal (MUCH cheaper, many more of'em, twin engines, much simpler tech). Who is it we're in need of Stealth aircraft to combat? A truism of all past major wars in the aviation era is that very few types in service at the outset of the conflict are still in use by the end. The needs are never what was invisioned.
I'm not a huge fan of the program.