Canada could reconsider an agreement to buy new F-35 joint strike fighter jets, Julian Fantino said Tuesday, as partner countries re-evaluate their own commitments.

"We have not as yet discounted, the possibility of course, of backing out of any of the program," Fantino, associate minister of national defence, told the House defence committee Tuesday.

"None of the partners have. We are not. And we’ll just have to think it through further as time goes on, but we are confident that we will not leave Canada or our men and women in uniform in a lurch, but it’s hypothetical to go any further right now."

Fantino's comments mark a change in tone from previous answers to questions about the possibility of rising costs and design problems with the Lockheed Martin fighter jets. He had previously left no possibility the government is exploring other options or considering pulling out of the agreement with allies like the United States, Norway, Italy and Australia.

Fantino, the minister responsible for military purchasing, hosted a meeting in Washington, D.C., earlier this month with the partner countries involved in the initial agreement to buy the planes. Canada hasn't signed a contract guaranteeing the purchase.

Canada had committed to buying 65 jets for no more than $9 billion. The plan was to buy them at a specific point in the production cycle so that they were less expensive than the first planes to come off the line. But delays in production and partner countries cutting down their orders have increased costs, which would mean either spending more to get them on time or delaying their arrival.

"One of the things that I know for certain is that Canada remains involved in the joint strike fighter program," Fantino said.

"The decision, the determinate decision, has not as yet been made as to whether or not we are going to actually purchase, buy, acquire, the F-35."