The F-35 has been chosen by the Canadian government as its preferred replacement for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s four-decade-old CF-188 Hornet fighters and will open negotiations with the stealth jet’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.
Public Services and Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi and Defence Minister Anita Anand made the announcement on Mar. 28, 2022, CBC News reported.
The decision to open negotiations is the latest step in a process that has been underway for more than a dozen years. It also represents a major reversal for the Liberal government — which pledged in 2015 to never buy the F-35.
“It is the most significant investment in the RCAF in more than 30 years,” Tassi said.
“Our government promised Canadians a competitive procurement process to ensure we are getting the right aircraft at the right price while maximizing economic benefits to Canadians. We committed to running an open, fair and competitive process and we are delivering on that promise.”
Tassi listed the steps the government took — such as hiring an independent fairness monitor — and insisted that politics played no role in the decision. The minister said that she and Anand were not informed who the winning bidder was until just before the announcement.
That didn’t stop the Opposition Conservatives from wondering aloud whether entering contract negotiations is another way for the government to delay making a final decision.
“After losing so many years for purely political reasons, we want to have a real response,” said Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus in question period. “Will the F-35 be Canada’s final choice or is this yet another time-stretching announcement?”
On Jul. 16 2010, the Government of Canada under Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced its intention to buy 65 F-35s to replace the Canadian Forces’ 80 CF-188 Hornets.
Then, on Oct. 19, 2015 the Liberal Party of Canada under Justin Trudeau won the country federal election and in early Jun. 2016 decided to buy the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as more affordable alternative to the F-35.
But Canada’s government cancelled a planned $2 billion purchase of 18 F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters because of a decision by Boeing to launch a trade challenge against Canadian planemaker Bombardier, which the US giant accuses of dumping airliners on the domestic American market.
In May 2019 the Canadian government launched a new fighter competition to replace RCAF’s CF-18 Hornets.
Airbus with the Eurofighter and Dassault with the Rafale withdrew earlier from the competition citing concerns about meeting Canadian requirements for interoperability with US forces for NORAD security.
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin
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