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Lockheed wins $9 billion deal to supply fighter jets to Canada

• Dana Hedgpeth via The Washington Post
Bethesda defense giant Lockheed Martin said Friday that it secured a roughly $9 billion deal to sell the Canadian government 65 of its new fighter jets, a move that industry analysts called a positive sign for one of the company's biggest and most closely watched programs.

The Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, also known as the F-35 Lightning II, is among the Pentagon's most expensive weapons contracts. The U.S. government is scheduled to buy about 2,400 jets for more than $300 billion for the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Navy.

But the fighter program has come under scrutiny for cost overruns and delays. In response, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates earlier this year fired the general in charge of its development and promised to withhold more than $600 million in performance bonuses from Lockheed for missing various benchmarks.

James McAleese, a defense industry analyst in Sterling, said Canada's purchase comes at a good time for Lockheed, as the F-35 program is "under attack."

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