- Boeing’s Super Hornet is no longer in the running to replace the military’s ageing CF-18s, according to the federal government.
- Lockheed Martin and Saab stated that they were looking forward to working with the government during the competition’s final stretch.
Canada’s decade-long quest for a new fighter plane has been reduced to two options.
The federal government confirms that Boeing’s Super Hornet is no longer in the running to replace the military’s ageing CF-18s.
Public Services and Procurement Canada announced on Wednesday, nearly a week after Boeing was reportedly told its bid for the $19 billion contracts did not meet Ottawa’s requirements.
At the time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government refused to comment publicly. It was unclear whether the US aerospace giant had been dropped from the competition to supply Canada with 88 new fighter jets.
However, in a statement on Wednesday, the federal procurement department confirmed that Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter and the Swedish Saab Gripen were the only two still in contention.
While the statement did not explain why Boeing’s offer was rejected, the fact that one of the two United States companies competing for the contract did not make the final shortlist is a significant development.
Following the announcement by the government, Boeing issued a statement in which it stated that it was “disappointed and deeply concerned” that its Super Hornet had not advanced to the next phase of the competition.
“We are working with the US and Canadian governments to understand the decision better and are looking for the earliest possible date to request a debrief to determine our next steps,” the company said.
Because of Canada’s close relationship with the US, which includes using fighter jets to defend North American airspace daily, many observers saw the Super Hornet and F-35 as the only real competition.
Those perceptions were heightened when two other European companies dropped out of the competition before it even began, claiming that the government’s requirements had stacked the deck in favor of their American competitors.
Airbus and Dassault, in particular, had expressed dissatisfaction with the onerous requirements associated with adapting their aircraft — the Eurofighter and Rafale, respectively — to meet Canada’s intelligence-sharing needs.
Among these requirements was the ability of their aircraft to integrate with the top-secret Canada-US intelligence network known as “Two Eyes,′′, which is used to defend North America.
In addition, Sweden is not a member of NATO or NORAD, the joint Canadian-American defense command in charge of protecting the continent against foreign threats. This raised concerns about the Gripen’s compatibility with US aircraft.
On Wednesday, Lockheed Martin and Saab stated that they were looking forward to working with the government during the competition’s final stretch.
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