As part of the Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) Canada aims to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s fleet of legacy CF-18 Hornets (local designation of the F/A-18) with a new aircraft. And the aircraft the Government has chosen is the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning 5th generation aircraft.
“The Government of Canada has reached another milestone in the competitive process to purchase 88 advanced fighter jets for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), which will ensure the requirements of the RCAF are met while also providing value for Canadians, generating high-value jobs in Canada as well as further growth for the Canadian aerospace and defence sector for decades to come,” says an official statement released on Mar. 28, 2022.
“Following a rigorous evaluation of proposals, the Government of Canada today announced it will now enter into the finalization phase of the procurement process with the top-ranked bidder, the United States (US) government and Lockheed Martin, for the F-35 fighter jet. This procurement represents the most significant investment in the RCAF in more than 30 years. It is essential for protecting the safety and security of Canadians, it will enhance our Arctic sovereignty, it will ensure we are equipped to better defend North America and it will help make sure we continue to meet our NATO and NORAD obligations well into the future.”
The Government of Canada launched an “open and transparent competitive process” to acquire new fighter jets in 2017. A formal request for proposals was released to eligible suppliers in July 2019. It closed in July 2020. Dassault and Airbus decided to withdraw their Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon proposals in 2018 and 2019, respectively, saying that the requirements favored the US bids. Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Saab, proposing the Super Hornet Block III, the F-35A Lightning II and the Gripen E respectively, were asked to show how their bids could meet not only the military requirements of the RCAF for missions both at home and abroad, but also provide benefits for the national industry.
In November 2021, it was announced that the replacement proposal based on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, one of the favorite bids considered that the RCAF already operates the “legacy” version of the Hornet, was rejected as it did not meet the federal government’s requirements. Between the two remaining contenders, Lockheed Martin and Saab, Canada eventually chose the F-35.
“The multi-step assessment process took into account a wide range of factors, including capabilities, cost, as well as economic benefits and impacts. Recognizing that these fighter jets must effectively serve the RCAF and Canadians over the coming decades, Canada evaluated these aircraft against typical scenarios familiar to NATO and NORAD allies, which were further tailored to meet the needs of the RCAF, including Canada’s unique northern geography. We are confident that this competitive process will deliver the best results for the Canadian Armed Forces and for Canadians.”
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