National interests are not always easy to reconcile with other priorities.
In Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces a dilemma. He postponed selection of a permanent replacement for a fleet of ageing Boeing CF-18s last year, partly over concerns about the cost of buying 65 Lockheed Martin F-35As. Then, Boeing brought an anti-dumping case against the Bombardier CSeries to the US Commerce Department, forcing him to shelve a planned interim buy of 18 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.
As officials decide the fate of the complaint as early as 26 September, Trudeau’s cabinet must hope for a decision that aligns with their budget for national security, and political interest in Bombardier’s solvency.
Meanwhile, the US Air Force faces its own inconvenient realities. A Trump administration dedicated to putting “America first” must soon award a $16 billion contract for 350 jet trainers to a bidder relying extensively on foreign technology: either Swedish (Boeing), Italian (Leonardo), or South Korean (Lockheed Martin).
Two options for an American-designed and -built jet trainer failed to materialise, with an aggressive push by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works overruled by corporate officers, and Northrop Grumman declining to submit a bid, despite designing and flying a prototype.
Political leaders will continue to champion national priorities, but reality is more complicated.