Jan 23, 2014
Dassault Aviation ramps up CF-18 replacement pitch
The offer, includes the unrestricted transfer of technology.
It has been a little over a year since the Conservatives put on hold their plan to buy 65 Lockheed Martin F-35s, and almost two years since the auditor general accused National Defence and Public Works of low-balling the price of the stealth fighters.
The Royal Canadian Air Force's current fleet is due to retire around 2020.
"A decision sooner than later is always better," he said in an interview.
Dassault's pitch could receive a warm reception in light of the Harper government's drive to give Canadian companies some of the billions to be spent on the planes.
The transfer of technology would allow Canada more flexibility to service the aircraft without involving the French parent company. It could be a boon to domestic aerospace firms, especially those that are already making parts for the Rafale fighter.
Dassault's competitors include the F-35, the Boeing Super Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon. They all offer a certain amount of technology transfer, but Dassault hopes its broad offer will catch the government's attention.
Early in the F-35 program, the issue of how much technology the U.S. was willing to share with its allies became a major sticking point and a barrier to the participation of other countries. Washington further ruffled feathers when it said it would not share the jet's software source codes.
In 2006, the Canadian air force dismissed the Rafale as a CF-18 replacement, citing concerns about the aircraft's ability to operate alongside the Americans, but Robins said the jet flew seamlessly with U.S. fighters during the 2011 Libya bombing campaign.
"It has been proven in war."