The cost per plane is now estimated to be $88-million in five years, when production is expected to be at full throttle, compared to DND’s earlier forecast of $70-75-million.
There is no credible proof that an F-35 can be had for $88M each. Declaring full-rate production in 5 years is not magic. It does not allow one to declare a new price just because one wants it so.
Canada also has to be able to run a fighter squadron inside of existing CF-18 annual operating budgets which take into account flying hours.
A few years ago the U.S. Navy flight test people predicted that it will cost over $30,000 per flight hour for an F-35. Later the USAF predicted for their variant (which Canada is looking at) to be $35,500 per flight hour.
As a comparison, the U.S. can operated F-16s and F-18s (like the Canadian CF-18) for under $20,000 per flying hour.
The original Joint Operational Requirements Document (JORD), composed in the 1990's and signed off on at the beginning of the last decade, stated that the then Joint Strike Fighter (Boeing's F-32 and Lockheed's F-35) should require a "significantly" reduced logistics footprint than an F-16 (flown by the USAF and various nations and cheaper to operate than a CF-18). It also mentioned that the F-35 should have a "significantly" greater sortie rate than the F-16 or CF-18.
Hard to believe given all of the negative F-35 program outlook. I doubt whoever wrote that knows the definition of the word "significantly" or has seen F-16 operations.
A recent U.S. government select acquisition report stated that the F-35 will be more expensive to own and operate than an F-16.
One of the major reasons for the F-35 to exist, the reason, was that it would be affordable. And that assumes we have a capable go-to-war aircraft.
Besides being obsolete to emerging threats, the F-35 is a gold-plated flying piano.
How Canada decides to replace its' CF-18 fleet should take all of this into account; including the concept of deceptive marking practices also known as thana marketing.