Defender of F-35 fighter jet proposal leaving military
Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps, Chief of Air Staff for National Defence, holds news conference on the acquisition of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in Ottawa on Thursday, March 17, 2011. (Fred Chartrand / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Friday, August 31, 2012 4:23PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 31, 2012 10:17PM EDT
OTTAWA, Ont. -- One of the most ardent defenders of the Harper government's plan to buy F-35 stealth fighters is leaving the Canadian military.
Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps, commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, will retire.
He's being replaced by Maj.-Gen. Al Blondin, who will be promoted and until recently commanded the 1st Canadian Air Division.
Deschamps' exit comes just days after the government picked another air force officer, Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson, as the new chief of defence staff, the country's top military commander.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay's office announced Deschamps' departure late Friday, along with a series of other command appointments.
Testifying regularly before House of Commons committees, Deschamps spoke up for the embattled F-35 project, insisting the multi-role fighter was the best choice for the country.