There is a report in the Globe and Mail that says that “Top U.S. weapons maker Lockheed Martin Corp is studying whether to shift work on its multibillion-dollar F-35 fighter jet away from Canadian firms given uncertainty about Ottawa’s plans to buy the jet … Jack Crisler, Lockheed’s vice president of business development for the F-35 programme, told Reuters Lockheed was under pressure from other partner countries that had placed firm orders or accelerated orders to shift more work to them … [and] … “This is not anything punitive. It is just business,” he said in a telephone interview from the Netherlands, where the F-35 will fly in its first international air show on Saturday …[but] … Canadian firms will account for development and production work on the F-35 programme worth about $1-billion by the end of 2016, Crisler said … But future work could be in jeopardy if Canada decides to skip a competition and order F/A-18E/F fighter jets built by rival Boeing Co, as indicated by recent Canadian media reports, he said.“
I’m not an expert on airplanes and I’m certainly not going to say “Buy this one or that one, but not this other one,” but I think we can agree on a few facts:
- Canada’s CF-18s do need replacing in the not too distant future;
- Successive governments, Liberal and Conservative, presumably following good economic/business, industrial and military advice, joined the F-35 programme because it was considered to be the best choice for Canada;
- The F-35 would, probably, win any fair, open, technical/military ‘competition;’
- The F-35 is, likely, competitively priced with e.g. the Super Hornet or Rafale or Grippen; and
- There are, doubtless, some logistical and training advantages to the Super Hornet; but
- This isn’t about getting the best fighter for the RCAF or getting the most (usually non-existent) industrial benefits for Canadians ~ it is all about keeping a hasty, ill-considered/unconsidered campaign promise. It is all about Liberal Party of Canada partisan politics.
The article goes on to say that Canadian aerospace companies are bringing pressure on the Liberal government to:
- Hold an open, fair competition; and, then
- Buy the F-35.
Another Globe and Mail reports says that “There is nothing stopping the Liberal government from fulfilling its promise to hold a full and open competition for new fighter jets, a top procurement bureaucrat told MPs … “That is definitely an option that can be pursued, and again, it’s information that we are providing [to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan],” Patrick Finn, the assistant deputy minister in charge of procurement at National Defence, said to a committee of the House on Thursday … Mr. Finn was responding to questions from NDP MP Erin Weir, who brought up the possibility that the Liberal government could use a sole-source contract to replace the current fleet of CF-18s.”
Prime Minister Trudeau: I’m pleased to introduce Mr Rock and Mr Hard Place; they want to have a word with you.