Two biggest competitors for future of Canadian air force at Abbotsford Airshow

The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II will both be featured at this year's event

  • Aug. 8, 2016 5:00 p.m.
The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet (left) and the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (right) will be on display at the 2016 Abbotsford International Airshow.

The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet (left) and the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (right) will be on display at the 2016 Abbotsford International Airshow.

‘Fightertown, Canada’ will come to the Fraser Valley this weekend with two options for the future of Canada’s air force on display at the Abbotsford International Airport.

The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II will be featured, both top contenders to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s aging fighter jets.

The airshow will mark the first time the F-35 has been on display in Canada. Two F-35s will be in town, with one on public display.

“We are always thrilled to connect people with airplanes, and certainly we are ecstatic to have the F-35A make its Canadian debut right here,” said airshow president Jim Reith.

The F-35A has been the topic of much political debate in Canada, with the current Liberal government not yet committing to a previous Conservative government plan to replace its fleet of CF-18s by 2025 with the expensive Lockheed Martin planes.

The U.S. Air Force announced on Aug. 2 that it now considers the F-35 ready for combat.

It will also be the first time F/A-18 Super Hornets will be flown by Boeing test pilots in Canada. The planes are being leased by Boeing from the U.S. Air Force.

These features would not be possible without a unique partnership with AIAC Pacific, the organization that produces the annual Aerospace Defense & Security Expo, which runs this Thursday and Friday.

“We’re positioning ourselves to be literally the only place in Canada with a major airshow with a trade conference right on the airfield and the ability to fly and display aircraft,” said Reith. “That doesn’t happen anywhere else in Canada and to be honest, it really doesn’t happen anywhere else in North America.”

The airshow and trade show partnership model has been successful abroad, according to Reith, who pointed to the Farnborough Airshow in Hampshire, England, as well as shows in Paris, Singapore and Dubai.

Reith points out that there are several more fighter jets rounding out the ‘Fightertown’ line-up, including two McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagles, “which is still one of the the greatest aircraft ever built [it was] never bested in aerial combat.”