Canada kicks Boeing out of jet competition, narrow search for F35 and Swedish Gripen


Ottawa — Canada conducts a decade-long search for a new fighter after the federal government confirms that U.S. aerospace giant Boeing’s Super Hornet has not been implemented to replace the military’s dilapidated CF-18. Officially narrowed down to two options.

A statement from the Canadian Ministry of Public Services and Procurement almost a week after the Canadian press reported surprise news that Boeing was told that a bid for a $ 19 billion contract did not meet Ottawa’s requirements. It was done.

At that time, the Liberal government refused to comment publicly, and there was uncertainty as to whether the US aerospace giant had dropped out of the competition to offer Canada 88 new fighters.

However, the Federal Procurement Department confirmed in a statement Wednesday that Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter and Sweden’s Saab Gripen are the only two still in conflict.

The statement did not state why Boeing’s offer did not make a cut, but the fact that one of the two U.S. companies competing for the deal failed to make a finalist list represents a major shift in the event. increase.

“The proposal was rigorously evaluated for capacity, cost, and economic benefit factors,” said the Canadian Ministry of Public Services and Procurement. “The assessment also included an assessment of economic benefits.”

Following the government’s announcement, Boeing issued its own statement stating that the Super Hornet was “disappointed and deeply concerned” that it had not reached the next stage of competition.

“We are working with the US and Canadian governments to better understand the decision, look for the earliest date to request a report, and then decide our future path,” the company said.

Many observers considered the Super Hornet and the F-35 to be the only real competition due to Canada’s close ties to the United States. This includes using fighters together to routinely defend North American airspace.

These perceptions were amplified only after two other European companies complained that government requirements were in favor of US rivals after they dropped out of the competition before they started competing.

In particular, both Airbus and Dassault were dissatisfied with what they saw as a daunting requirement associated with adapting aircraft (Eurofighter and Rafale, respectively) to meet Canada’s information sharing requirements.

These requirements included enabling the aircraft to integrate with the top secret Canadian and US intelligence networks known as “Two Eyes” used to protect North America.

Sweden is not a member of NATO or Norad, a Canadian-American Joint Defense Command responsible for protecting the continent from foreign threats. It prompted questions about Gripen’s compatibility with US aircraft.

Airbus, which shut down in August 2019, also expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s decision to change its long-standing policy of requiring military contract bidders to legally promise to invest in Canada.

This change followed a US complaint that Canada violated an agreement signed in 2006 to make its previous policy one of nine partners in the development of the F-35. The agreement shows that companies in partner countries compete for work.

Lockheed Martin and Saab said Wednesday they are looking forward to working with the government in the final stages of the tournament.

“We look forward to working with our industry partners to continue to support the government in the competitive process,” Lockheed Martin Canada CEO Lorraine Ben said in a statement.

It’s not exactly clear what will happen next Wednesday, and the procurement department said it would “complete the next step” in the coming weeks.

However, the ministry said these steps could include final negotiations with the highest bidders, or “starting a competitive dialogue that provides the remaining two bidders with the opportunity to improve their proposals.” Showed that there is.

The government hopes to sign a final contract next year, adding that the first new aircraft was delivered in 2025.

Timothy Chooi, a defense analyst at the North American and Arctic Defense Security Network, said the fact that two aircraft are still in operation at this stage can allow Lockheed Martin and Saab to loosen their bids. Said that it suggests that some sort of final negotiation or discussion will take place.

“Both of the current proposals suggest that they are far superior to the other proposals, and the team and our observers have taken an additional step in which both teams spend more time improving their offers. I’m preparing to expect, “he said.

“Of course, this will require (the government) to revisit these new proposals, which will take even longer.”

There have long been concerns in some corners that the entire competition has been set up from the beginning to select the F-35, which has been purchased by many of Canada’s closest allies.

Canada joined the United States and other allies in 1997 as a partner in the development of the F-35, paying US $ 613 million to stay at the table. Partners receive jet discounts and can compete for billions of dollars in the construction and maintenance of jets.

However, David Perry, vice president of the Canada Global Affairs Institute, said Lockheed Martin’s bid began at a disadvantage because it could not guarantee that the money spent on the F-35 would be reinvested in Canada. Said to mean.

Stephen Harper’s conservative government has promised to buy 65 F-35s in 2010 without competition, before concerns about the cost and capabilities of stealth fighters bring it back to the drawing board.

In 2015, the liberals promised to start an open competition to replace the CF-18 instead of buying the F-35. They later planned to purchase 18 Super Hornets without competition as a “provisional” measure to secure enough aircraft in Canada until a permanent replacement arrived.

At the time, some people questioned the plan, trying to find a way for liberals to lock Canada into the Super Hornet without being exposed to legal complaints from Lockheed Martin and other jet makers. Suggested.

However, the government canceled the plan after Boeing launched a trade dispute with Montreal’s aerospace company Bombardier over a C-series aircraft. The current bidding process began in July 2019, at which point both the Super Hornet and the F-35 were allowed to compete.

Meanwhile, the government was forced to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the CF-18 fleet to continue flying until a replacement was delivered. The last new plane is not scheduled to arrive until 2032. At that point, the CF-18 has been in use for 50 years.

Canadian press