The other two aircraft competing for the $19-billion contract — Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen —met the government’s requirements.
The Canadian government has told to Boeing that its bid to replace Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) aging CF-18 Hornets with a new fleet of the company’s F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets did not meet the federal government’s requirements.
According to Toronto Star, three sources from industry and government say the message was delivered on Nov. 24, 2021 as the other two companies competing for the $19-billion contract — US defence giant Lockheed Martin and Swedish firm Saab — were told they met the government’s requirements.
Since they were not authorized to discuss these matters publicly the three sources were all granted anonymity.
The Department of National Defence and Public Services and Procurement Canada, which is managing the competition on behalf of the federal government, did not respond to requests for comment on Nov. 25.
Companies not only had been ordered to show that their contract would result in substantial economic benefits to Canada but also to show their fighter jet was able to meet the military’s requirements for missions at home and abroad.
While Boeing’s failure to meet the requirements would appear to disqualify the F/A-18 Super Hornet from the competition, leaving only Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen fighter jet in the running, none of the companies have been told whether they are still in or out.
According to a Boeing spokesperson the company would reserve comment pending official notification from the government.
News that one of the two U.S. companies competing for the contract failed to meet one or more of the requirements is the latest twist in what has already been a long and often unpredictable road toward replacing Canada’s CF-18s.
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’ existing 80 CF-18 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.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy