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Canada's Tenuous F-35 Sweet Spot: Canadian defense minister Peter MacKay last week underscored Canada's commitment to the F-35 strike fighter and the need for timely procurement of the stealth aircraft. "It’s clear that it’s the intention of the government of Canada to proceed with the purchase. This is a solid decision," said MacKay during a press conference with Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Ottawa during Gates' official Canada visit. Last July, the Canadian government announced its intent to procure 65 F-35s to replace its aging CF-18s. Responding to calls by Canada's Liberal Party to cancel those plans, MacKay voiced fears that "in addition to losing a preferential place in the production line," Canada would face an "operational gap" as the CF-18s reach the end of their service lives. "There is a very . . . sweet spot in terms of the delivery time," he noted during the Jan. 27 briefing. (Gates-MacKay transcript)