F-35s touch down in Canada for first time at Abbotsford Air Show
Theme of this year's show is 'heroes of the skies,' including jets, warbirds, aerobatic teams
The Canadian Press Posted: Aug 13, 2016 5:59 PM ET Last Updated: Aug 13, 2016 5:59 PM ET
Although the Trudeau government has backed away from plans to buy the F-35, two of the fighter jets are streaking over Canadian skies this weekend.
The stealth fighters arrived Thursday as part of the annual Abbotsford Air Show in B.C.'s lower mainland.
The plane has been plagued by delays and cost overruns and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said his government would look at other alternatives to replace its current CF-18 fighter jets. Trudeau said in June the F-35 "does not work."
But the pilots who flew the F-35 into Abbotsford are singing its praises.
Lt-Col. George Watkins of the U.S. Air Force's 34th Fighter Squadron flew one of the next-generation stealth fighters to B.C. from Utah. He said the plane's stealth technology, advanced radar and threat-detection system improve pilots' first-strike capability.
Earlier this month, the U.S. air force said the version of the F-35 fighter plane that Canada was planning to buy was ready for combat.
But there's more to the airshow than just the F-35s. The theme of this year's show is "heroes of the skies" and it includes jets, warbirds and aerobatic teams. The Canadian Forces Snowbirds perform nightly until the show closes on Sunday.
Vancouver was treated to an early show on Thursday as the Snowbirds made their way to Abbotsford via a downtown audience. If air traffic control and travel routes allow for it, the Snowbirds try to make the flyby special for people who may be watching, particularly when they pass over urban areas.
The rival aircraft vying to become Canada's next fighter jet is Boeing's F-18 Super Hornet, which also made an appearance at the air show.
Other performances include the French Breitling Jet Team on the last year of their North American Tour, and the world's largest professional civilian parachute aerobatics team, the Canadian Forces Skyhawks.