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Boeing officially withdrawn from Canadian fighter competition

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Boeing officially withdrawn from Canadian fighter competition

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OTTAWA – The federal government has confirmed that Boeing’s Super Hornet fighter jet is not in the running to replace Canada’s CF-18s.

Public Services and Procurement Canada’s official announcement comes nearly a week after the Canadian Press first reported that Boeing learned that its bid for the $ 19 billion fighter plane contract was not meeting Canadian requirements.

The government declined to comment publicly at the time, including on whether the U.S. aerospace giant was out of the competition.

But the department confirmed in a statement Wednesday that Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter and Swedish Saab Gripen are the only two fighters still in the running.

The press release did not explain why Boeing’s offer was not accepted.

Bidders were required to demonstrate that their fighter aircraft was capable of meeting military requirements for missions at home and abroad, and that winning the contract would result in substantial economic benefits to Canada.

The news that one of the two US companies vying for the contract has failed to meet one or more of the requirements is the latest turning point in what has already been a long and often unpredictable road to CF replacement. 18 from Canada.

While Public Services and Procurement Canada says it will finalize the next stages of the competition in the coming weeks, it insists it still hopes to award a contract in time for the first new fighter jet to arrive here. 2025.

Many observers viewed the Super Hornet and the F-35 as the only real competition due to Canada’s close relationship with the United States, which includes the use of fighter jets together to defend North American aerospace in the United States. day-to-day.

These perceptions were only amplified after two other European companies abandoned the competition before it even began, complaining that government demands had stacked the game in favor of their American rivals.

Sweden is not a member of NATO or the Canada-U.S. Joint Defense Command known as Norad, which is responsible for protecting the continent from foreign threats. This had raised questions about the compatibility of the Gripen with American planes.

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

Canada first joined the United States and other allies as a partner in the development of the F-35 in 1997 and has since paid US $ 613 million to stay at the table. Partners get a discount when purchasing the jets and compete for billions of dollars in contracts associated with their construction and maintenance.

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government then pledged to buy 65 F-35s without competition in 2010, before concerns about the cost and capabilities of the stealth fighter forced it back to the drawing board.

The Liberals promised in 2015 not to buy the F-35s, but rather to launch an open competition to replace the CF-18s. They later planned to purchase 18 Super Hornets without a competition as a “stopgap” measure to ensure Canada has enough planes until permanent replacements can be purchased.

Some at the time questioned that plan, suggesting the Liberals were trying to find a way to lock Canada into the Super Hornet without exposing itself to legal challenge from Lockheed Martin or any other aircraft maker.

But the government canceled the plan after Boeing launched a trade dispute with Montreal aerospace company Bombardier over the latter’s C-series planes. He later introduced a penalty for companies seeking a federal contract that started a trade dispute with Canada.

Meanwhile, the government has been forced to invest hundreds of millions of additional dollars in the CF-18 fleet to keep it in service until a replacement can be delivered. The government has announced plans to nominate a winner in the coming months, with the first aircraft being delivered in 2025.

The arrival of the last plane is not expected until 2032, when the CF-18s will be there for 50 years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 1, 2021.

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