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Canada Commits to Buy F-35: In a boost to the F-35 strike fighter program, Canada has announced that it will spend approximately $8.5 billion to procure 65 F-35s to replace its CF-18 fighters. First delivery is expected in 2016 as the CF-18s are due to reach the end of their operational service lives by 2020, according to the Canadian National Defence headquarters. "Not only does the F-35 meet all of the Canadian Forces operational requirements for a next generation fighter aircraft, the F-35 offers the best value by providing exceptional capability at the lowest cost with excellent benefits and opportunities for the Canadian defense industry," stated a National Defence in release Friday. Since 1997, Canada has been a member of the multinational consortium developing the F-35. So far, of the partner nations, only the US has bought F-35 production aircraft. (See also Lockheed Martin release, Fort Worth Star-Telegram report, Reuters news wire service report, and Vancouver Sun report.)