DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN: CANADA’S JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER

CANADIAN AIR FORCE NEEDS COMPETITION ON NEXT GENERATION FIGHTER NEXT YEAR AT THE LATEST

 

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

 

Nov. 3, 2009

 

The Canadian Air Force’s timetable to obtain a Next Generation Fighter in time for replacement of the CF-18 fleet by 2015/2016 requires a competition to be run no later than next year, according to Air Force documents obtained by David Pugliese’s Defence Watch.

 

According to a Sept. 25, 2008 Air Force briefing on the Next Generation Fighter Capability, the timetable for the purchase calls for a competition to be run next year and a contract with the winning aircraft manufacturer to be signed by 2012.

 

The timetable has prompted some in the Canadian Forces to push for a sole source deal with Lockheed Martin on the purchase of the Joint Strike Fighter. Those supporting such a process are worried that if a competition is held there would be delays and a Next Generation Fighter would not be procured to coincide with the phasing out of the CF-18 fleet.

 

According to the timetable obtained by Defence Watch, initial deliveries of the Next Generation Fighter would take place in 2015/2016 with the initial operating capability in 2018, according to the timetable. Full operating capability would be achieved by 2023.

 

Representatives with U.S. aerospace firm Boeing are arguing that it makes more sense to hold a competition and let the best aircraft win. It has been involved in meetings with Defence Department officials to promote that idea. In addition, Canadian industry representatives who support Boeing have approached government officials to question the idea of a sole source deal.

 

Boeing makes the Super Hornet, an improved variant of the F-18.

 

Canada has already invested $150 million (U.S.) in JSF. The government has also decided to take part in the next phase of the aircraft’s development, agreeing to invest around $500 million (U.S.) over the next 45 years. But according to government officials that investment does not automatically mean Canada will buy the plane.

 

That is enough for Boeing, BAE Systems and Saab Aerospace to begin marketing their aircraft to Canada. Over the last several months the firms have made presentations or provided information on their aircraft to Canada’s Defence Department. Boeing is offering Canada the F-18 Super Hornet, BAE is marketing the Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab is highlighting the Gripen.

 

Ian Malin, head of Typhoon business development for BAE Systems, said the firm is looking to discuss teaming arrangements with Canadian firms who are not involved in JSF.

 

Defence Department spokeswoman Lianne LeBel has said no decision has been made by the government on the choice of a new fighter or on how the procurement will be handled.

 

 

 

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

 

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

 

 

 

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