I said some months ago, after it was reported that Dassault of France had pulled its Rafale fighter out of Canada’s competition to replace our CF-18s, that “It makes me wonder if we have a two-horse race to replace our ageing CF-18 Hornets. Is it the Lockheed-Martin Lightning II, the jet Justin Trudeau said he would not buy because it does work, vs the European Typhoon?“
Now David Pugliese reports, in the National Post, that “Another company has pulled out of Canada’s competition to buy new fighter jets … [and] … The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence and Airbus Defence and Space informed the Canadian government Friday of their decision to withdraw from Canada’s future fighter competition. Airbus had been offering Canada the Eurofighter Typhoon.“
I had guessed that the Swedish Saab Grippen might be the next contender to drop out, but it is still in the race, as Mr Pugliese says, “The decision to pull the Eurofighter from the competition leaves the F-35, the Boeing Super Hornet, and Saab’s Gripen … and he adds that] … It is unclear whether Boeing or Saab will continue in the competition.“
He explains that “Airbus and the British Ministry of Defence noted in a joint statement that the decision to withdraw was the result of a detailed review of Canada’s request for proposals, which was released on July 23. The statement pointed to the changes Canada made to the industrial benefits package to appease Lockheed Martin as well as the excessive costs that U.S.-Canadian security requirements placed on a company based outside North America … [saying] … “A detailed review has led the parties to conclude that NORAD security requirements continue to place too significant of a cost on platforms whose manufacture and repair chains sit outside the United States-Canada 2-EYES community … [and] … Second, both parties concluded that the significant recent revision of industrial technological benefits obligations does not sufficiently value the binding commitments the Typhoon Canada package was willing to make, and which were one of its major points of focus.”” If that North American bias is too strong for Airbus and the UK I still wonder if Sweden’s Saab can justify the costs of a bid.
In any event, it looks to me as if this is shaping up to be a one-horse race. I doubt Saab can win on technical grounds; I agree with many others that the Super-Hornet is too dated and the very smart and generally impartial people doing the analysis will decide that the F-35 Lightning II, the jet that Justin Trudeau promised Canada would not buy, will be the winner.
I expect that Canada will do whatever it can to keep at least two bidders, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, in the competition until the spring of 2020. But my guess is that the issue is decided.