Bombardier hands out CF-18 deals

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Texas-based Link to provide units for controversial programme and says some of the work will be performed in Canada

Link Simulation & Training has won a C$127 million ($95 million) contract to supply Boeing CF-18 simulators to Bombardier, controversial winner of the Canadian Forces' advanced distributed combat training system (ADCTS) programme.

Losing bidder CAE has criticised the award of the C$270 million ADCTS contract to a team offering US-built simulators, saying its offer was 19% lower and had greater Canadian content. The government says Bombardier's bid has 66% Canadian content.

Texas-based L-3 Communications subsidiary Link says "elements" of its contract will be performed in Canada. The contract covers six Link-built CF-18 air combat emulators (ACES), four to be installed at CFB Bagotville, Quebec and two at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta in new mission training centres.

The networked ACES will be complemented by 10 Link-built CF-18 part-task trainers (PPT), which will be distributed between Bagotville, Cold Lake and the Canadian Forces Directorate, Aerospace Requirements in Ottawa. The first PPT will be delivered this year, followed by ACES in 2005 and 2006.

Earlier delivery, facilitated by Link's experience building networked F/A-18 simulators for the US Navy, was one reason the Bombardier-led team won the ADCTS contest. CAE has not decided whether to protest, but blamed most of the 350 job cuts announced this month on losing the CF-18 contract.

David Pratt, Canada's minister of national defence, insists the procurement was "open, fair, and transparent".

Canada's Xwave will develop databases for the trainer visual systems. The ACES will use Link's SimuSphere 360° display. The PTTs will have single flat-panel displays.

GRAHAM WARWICK / WASHINGTON DC & BRIAN DUNN / MONTREAL