Let me see if I have this straight. In order to meet an urgent “capability gap” with regard to its aging fleet of fighter jets, the federal government is kicking the competition to produce a replacement jet that it promised two years ago another year into the future. A winner will be chosen no sooner than 2022, five years from now, or a dozen years after the winner of the previous competition was declared. The planes will be delivered in 2025.
In the meantime, as an interim measure, it will upgrade its current fleet of 30-year-old CF-18 Hornets with 18 virtually identical second-hand Australian F-18 Hornets of the same age. This follows its decision to cancel a previous agreement to buy the same number of new F-18 Super Hornets from Boeing, in retaliation for Boeing’s invocation of U.S. trade remedy laws against Canada’s subsidies to Bombardier. The earliest the interim planes will be in the air is the “early 2020s,” leaving perhaps two years before they are mothballed.
Boeing likewise faces effective exclusion from the competition for a long-term replacement for the CF-18s owing to proposed new rules against procuring military equipment from companies who do “economic harm” to Canada. Not excluded from the competition: Lockheed Martin’s F-35, the plane that was first chosen in 2010, but which the incoming Liberal government had promised it would not choose, in the same platform in which it promised to immediately launch an “open and transparent competition.”