Canada is still looking for a new fighter aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The Canadian government is looking to replace its CF-18, which has been in service since 1982. The CF-18 is manufactured in the United States.
Canadian officials have said that an “open and transparent competition” will be used in order determine the country’s next fighter jet. The officials have stated that they will focus on options that are congruent with the defense needs of Canada.
Recently a letter from new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent to his Minister of Defense Harjit Sajjan has been made available to the public. In the letter, Sajjan has been asked to work in conjunction with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to proceed with a bidding process for companies to compete for the right to produce a new fighter jet for the Canadian Royal Air Force.
Previously, plans had been for Canada to construct Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets. These plans have apparently been scrapped, most likely because of the high cost that is associated with the F-35. The F-35 is currently used by the United States Air Force. With the original plans out of the picture, Canada will instead send out bidding requests to multiple airplane manufacturers. There is no word if Lockheed Martin will be invited to participate in the bidding.
Already, France has offered the Rafale fighter jet as a cheaper alternative to the F-35. Another possible option could include the F/A-18 from Boeing.
Canada had been trying to construct its own F-35 fighter jets since 1997. The country was apparently set to build 65 fighter jets for $33.6 billion. Canada was planning on using some domestic parts and equipment in its F-35 aircrafts.
However, these plans never went through, most likely because of the plane’s high upfront cost and expensive maintenance costs. Additionally, multiple delays in developing the Canadian F-35 likely put a damper on this plan.