Canada to launch future fighter competition, acquire Australian Hornets

13 December 2017
A Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet on the flightline Kuwait. Source: Canadian Department of National Defence

Key Points

  • A request for proposals for Canada's future fighter programme will be issued in early 2019 and first aircraft are to be delivered by 2025
  • Canada will also buy 18 F/A-18 Hornet aircraft from Australia to address capability gaps

The Canadian Government on 12 December formally launched its future fighter competition to replace the Boeing CF-18 (F/A-18) Hornet aircraft flown by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

Top defence officials said Canada would begin a competition to select 88 advanced fighter aircraft for up to CAD19 billion.

Consultations with industry will begin in January 2018, and formal expressions of interest are to be submitted by 28 February. An official request for proposals is expected in the mid-2019 and a selection will follow by early 2022. The first replacement aircraft are expected to be delivered by 2025, officials said.

Industry proposals are to be assessed based on technical and value requirements, and must comply with Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefit policy, which serves to increase economic benefits to Canada through bidders investing in local companies.

Moreover, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) said it would assess a bidder’s business conduct. “Any bidder responsible for harm to Canadian economic interests will be at a distinct disadvantage,” PSPC said. Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Carla Qualtrough, said “this assessment will take place at the time the bid is submitted” and that the policy would apply to all future procurements.

While the process of selecting a permanent replacement is underway, the Canadian government will purchase 18 F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, plus additional spare parts from Australia to supplement its existing fleet. It originally planned to buy new F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters from Boeing, but a trade dispute between Boeing and Bombardier scuttled that deal.

The supplementary Hornet aircraft will help Canada meet its obligations to NATO and the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

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