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​DUBAI: Canada expects fifth-generation fighter contract by 2021

The Royal Canadian Air Force expects to release a new request for proposals for its fifth-generation fighter competition by 2019 with a contract award by 2021, the RCAF’s commander says this week.

In June, Canada proposed 88 new fighters for the RCAF , an increase from the previous government’s plan to purchase 65 jets to replace the aging CF-18 fleet, but did not outline a timeline for the RFP.

Canada launched an open competition for the CF-18 replacement last summer following a campaign promise from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party to step away from the controversial Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The government is considering all options, including the F-35, although a Boeing F/A-18 acquisition appears unlikely in the wake of the airframer's commercial dispute with Bombardier.

RCAF commander Lt Gen Michael Hood would not comment directly on whether Boeing’s Super Hornet is still under consideration in the competition. This autumn the government announced it had suspended direct engagement with Boeing.

“I would say my personal relationship is limited to the support of our ongoing Boeing products and those normal day-to-day discussions we would have with them,” Hood tells FlightGlobal at the annual Dubai International Air Chiefs Conference.

Meanwhile, Canada is considering options for an interim CF-18 replacement. The government had previously proposed buying 18 new Super Hornets, but the commercial dispute has pushed the government to change course and examine Canada’s used Boeing F/A-18A/B Hornets. Last month, Canada submitted a formal declaration known as an expression of interest to Australia. Canada operates a similar Hornet configuration and both the CF-18s and Australian F/A-18A/Bs began operating within a few years of each other. Canada also bought the intellectual property on the jet and already uses L-3 for F/A-18 sustainment, Hood adds.

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