Canada is planning to replace its aging fleet of 77 CF-18s (bought in 1980s) with 88 new fighter jets. An order is estimated to be worth approximately between $12 to $15 billion.
The bidding process is going to be formally launched in 2019, the winner should be awarded the contract in 2022, making 2025 the year when the new fighter jets might be delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Canadian news outlet the Globe and Mail estimates.
Although the upcoming competition is going to be “open”, meaning that no aircraft manufacturers are going to be officially excluded from participating, the true situation might not be quite such. The remarks by the public works and procurement minister Carla Qualtrough made during news conference indicate that the United States plane manufacturer Boeing might be an exception.
Qualtrough said that “bidders responsible for harming Canada’s economic interests will be at a distinct disadvantage”, as quoted by Reuters. This is a rather clear hint to Boeing, which is currently at a trade war with Canadian rival Bombardier and for this reason has just lost another order by Canadian government for the interim fighter jets.
Canada chose to purchase used F/A-18 Classic Hornets from the Royal Australian Air Force for around $500 million instead of an anticipated pricier order for new Super Hornets by Boeing earlier in December 2017.
Boeing is currently locked in a legal battle against its Canadian rival Bombardier. The US plane maker launched its dispute earlier this year, alleging that the Canadian government is illegally subsidizing Bombardier’s C Series commercial airliner program and that the planes are being sold in the US at “absurdly low” prices. Bombardier denies the allegations.
The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the dispute in September, 2017 when threatened to halt what he called Canada’s “significant procurement” of Boeing’s fighter jets while the company pursues its trade dispute. “We won’t do business with a company that’s busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business,” Trudeau told the press. At that time Boeing replied by saying that it “is not suing Canada” but that the matter is a commercial dispute with the Canadian company.