Gives birth on fighter jets
The Canadian Press – March 22, 2022 / 16:28 | History: 363659
Photo: The Canadian Press
An F-35A Lightning II fighter jet practices for an air show in Ottawa, Friday, September 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Adrian Wyld
Federal procurement officials will not say when Canada will take the next step in the years-long process of choosing a new fighter jet.
The federal government announced in December that it had narrowed its search for a replacement for the military’s aging CF-18s to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and the Swedish Saab Gripen.
The government said at the time that a decision would be made shortly on whether the government would engage in another round of negotiations with the two companies or select a winner directly.
Yet nearly four months later, no announcement has been made, leading to concerns about even further delays in the replacement of Canada’s CF-18 at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has underscored the importance of modern military capabilities.
Public Services and Procurement Canada’s Assistant Deputy Prime Minister Simon Page said on Tuesday that the process is “very active, very lively” as he was grilled by a parliamentary committee over the lack of a resolution.
But while Page and other federal officials expressed optimism that a contract with the winning bidder would be signed by the end of the year, they declined to give any details about the reasons for the delay, or when a decision on the next step could come.
“By answering the question, we would lean one way over the other,” Page told members of the House of Commons government committee. “And I just do not want to answer that at the moment, to protect the integrity of the process.”
It was also not immediately clear who will ultimately decide whether to continue with another round of negotiations with Lockheed Martin and Saab, or the choice of a final winner.
Conservative committee member Kelly McCauley expressed concern about the lack of clarity about what is happening with the acquisition of fighter jets, especially given the numerous delays that have dragged out the search for a new fighter jet over a decade.
The federal government plans to buy 88 new fighter jets at an estimated cost of up to $ 19 billion, with delivery of the first aircraft expected by 2025 at the earliest. The final aircraft should be delivered in 2032, but it has since moved to 2033.
The Boeing Super Hornet was also in the running, but was thrown out of the competition in December.
The successful selection of a new fighter jet this year would mark the culmination of more than a decade of stop-start efforts marked by poor leadership and political controversy under two consecutive federal governments.