Next fighter contract battle: Canada?

Brazil continues its seemingly never-ending, three-way competition for the 36-aircraft  F-X2 contract. India, meanwhile, is evaluating six different candidates for the 126-aircraft medium multi-role combat aircraft. Several European countries — including Switzerland and Denmark — are nearing fighter contract decisions. And Asian countries including South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore also looking at the export market to buy new fighters. In the middle east, Iraq, Oman and Qatar want to upgrade their fighter fleets, while the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia also seem to be ever-on-the-verge of buying new Rafales and F-15s, respectively.

In the midst of all this fighter market activity, the Ottawa Citizen’s David Pugliese reports today on the next big fighter contract battlefront. Canada is gearing up to buy at least 65 fighters by 2015. But, as Pugliese says on his Defence Watch blog, Ottawa may not be in such a rush to replace the CF-18. Nor, Pugliese writes, is the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter necessarily a shoo-in for the contract, as I noted on my visit to Ottawa last May.

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13 Responses to Next fighter contract battle: Canada?

  1. Atomic Walrus 4 January, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

    Ah, lovely. The Canadian aerospace industry starts to lobby for another government handout in the form of industrial offsets. Of course, this isn’t all of the aerospace industry, just the parts that haven’t benefited from the JSF development work to date. The issue here isn’t what’s best for the Canadian Armed Forces, it’s what’s best for the aerospace lobby and political parties who need support in Ontario and Quebec. The Forces have been fairly successful in battling this syndrome over the past decade, buying off-the-shelf equipment like the C-17, C-130J, and CH-47 instead of getting into traditional Canadian procurement activities that produced aircraft like the Griffon helicopter (a souped-up civilian Bell 412) and the new ASW helicopter that’s been delayed for several additional years. Unfortunately, it sounds like the pigs have been squealing loudly enough about being barred from the trough that the government is starting to listen again.

  2. John S 4 January, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    Canada would be silly not to seriously consider the F/A-18E/F over the F-35A/C.

    If they’re serious about the in-service dates, they may have to split their purchase, with some F/A-18E/Fs replacing their oldest CF18s first, then later purchasing F-35A/Cs to replace their newer CF18s.

  3. EG 4 January, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    “Canada would be silly not to seriously consider the F/A-18E/F over the F-35A/C.”

    - Too which I reply; “politics uber alles.” :)

  4. Herkeng130 4 January, 2010 at 10:59 pm #

    They could always build the CF-105 ;)

  5. MarkB 5 January, 2010 at 6:32 am #

    Would Canada consider the F-15 Stealth Eagle? It seems to me that it would have some serious range advantage over the Super Hornet. I’m sure they could get them almost as quickly as the Rhinos too. Just a thought.

  6. Fred 5 January, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    Relax, it is just David Pugliese doing his thang . . . he predicted Canada would buy the A400M.

    He’s notorious for spinning a factoid into a scandal. Typical MSM journalist, always with the scare or scandal angle.

  7. MarkB 5 January, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    I wonder if Canada might consider the new F-15 Stealth Eagle as an alternative to either the Super Hornet and the F-35? It would have all the latest gear. It would have better range than the F-18 and the twin engine advantage over the F-35. The cost would be about what the F-35 is. 100 mil a copy, right? Just an idea.

  8. MLeao 5 January, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    For the records, Brazilian press has noticed what seems to be a crisis in the horizon, as it has released that the military would have chosen the Gripen instead the previous “political” preference for the Rafale. Check at http://www.defesanet.com.br/01_lz/fx2/01_fsp_05jan10.htm (portuguese)

  9. alloycowboy 5 January, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

    Canada will buy the F-35 because of it’s supieor range and advanced avonics. Suggesting Canada buy the F-18E/F is like suggesting Canada buy bows and arrows instead of machine guns.

  10. Dave 5 January, 2010 at 8:41 pm #

    My source inside their DND says they’re pretty much committed to the F-35, despite reports to the contrary… though some in DND want to consider the F-35B over the A model- he’s as mystified as you or me about that. That being said, my source believes ultimately they’ll still buy the A. The alleged competition is more smoke and mirrors than anything else.

  11. aeroxavier 5 January, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    canada buy what the USA will sell

  12. glider 7 January, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    the point is not in stating which is the absolute winner of the “best a/c of the world” contest, but which asset best suits the strategical/tactical needs of the country esp. keeping the political scenario in mind.

    military procurement also is a way to drive a political scenario without shooting a .22 round.

    in this way the rafale could be overkill and money waste for brazil foreign policy, supercruise is nearly useless for switzerland, F35B is more valuable than F35A for european countries at least until tornadoes sill can ferry some iron.

    if canadians need fighters (and are not allowed to/interested in f22s) they can go with ef2000 just as japan could
    if they need f/b stay with F35A and ask US/UK to provide a/a coverage

    weapons legacy matters as much as to keep the wonderful rafale out of the bid.
    imho bricks (mil hardware) need to be procured depending on the wall you are building and (hopefully) what it’s for.

  13. MiG Hound 20 February, 2010 at 8:38 am #

    I have a number of reservations concerning adopting the F-35 for Canadian defense requirements. What concerns me the most is the fact that, the requirement has traditionally been for twin engine fighters, and this has been overlooked in the case of the F-35. The resurgence of Russian Bear Foxtrots appearing over the polar cap forces our fighters to travel vast distances to intercept these incursions. The failure of one engine on existing Hornets will be worrisome for the pilot, as he/she hobbles back to home plate. Should the engine fail on an F-35, you can scratch one plane, and in the worst circumstances, considering the harsh conditions of the vast Canadian Tundra, scratch one pilot. These odds are too costly for families of pilots, and indeed the Canadian tax payer.

    The F/A-18E/F series are again the most viable, modern airframe for Canadian defense requirements, and continued NATO participation requirements. Albeit, a 20% larger airframe, the Super Hornet is very much the same aircraft Canadian pilots have been flying since the mid ‘80s, with the latest Avionics suites available. I’m no economist, but just playing with some facts and figures, the Canadian Govt. at per unit cost, could procure some 90 F/A-18E/F aircraft for approx. 5.5 Billion in USD. I’d be curious to know the service life costs and weapons deployment costs would be, for these airframes over a 30+ year life span.

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