Jan 9, 2014
Canada yet to decide which fighter jet will replace CF-18
Canadian media say the Boeing Co.'s campaign for Canada choosing its Super Hornet as a replacement for the near obsolete CF-18 has focused on recent U.S. budget troubles as an argument for ditching Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Boeing has also cited existing compatibility of its aircraft systems with the Canadian air force requirements and ongoing collaborative projects that provide Canadian jobs.
The National Fighter Procurement Secretariat, likely to play a central role in the eventual choice of Canada's fighter fleet, recently received the military's assessments of the four competing fighter jets, Defense Industry reported.
Boeing's Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-35A must also contend with rivals Rafale, produced by Dassault Aviation of France, and the Eurofighter Typhoon, made by the consortium of BAE Systems, EADS and Italy's Alenia Aermacchi. However, analysts say, the contest for Canada's future fighter fleet really boils down to the Super Hornet and F-35A.
Canada received 138 CF-18s from 1982 to 1988. Accidents and retirements have reduced the fleet to about 103, with only 79 upgraded F/A-18 AM/BM Hornets still operational.
The CF-18s are expected to be phased out from 2017 to 2023.
Canada is an active partner in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter development program, and has spent about $160 million on concept demonstration, system development and demonstration phases.
Canada may end up spending more than $550 million on production, sustainment and follow-on development phases of the F-35 program.
What's worrying Canadians, however, is the total cost of adopting the fighter as its air force's main fleet. Canada is widely expected to buy about 65 new F-35As but the cost estimates so far have varied wildly -- from $17 billion to more than $45 billion.