Justin Trudeau has only been Canada’s president for a few days but already he is causing military weapons contractor Lockheed Martin some financial nightmares.
Canada was poised to buy 60 F-35s from Lockheed Martin to replace its 30-year-old CF-18 Hornets, but leading up to the elections Trudeau vowed to “reduce the procurement budget for replacing the CF-18s” – and “will instead purchase one of the many, lower-priced options that better match Canada’s defence needs.”
That means that America’s Boeing, Sweden’s Saab and France’s Dassault, are in the running as they all offer cheaper alternatives to the F-35.
Capital Alpha Partners analyst Byron Callan, says “The F-35 could face more competition from the F/A-18 and Dassault Rafale, both of which could be in production longer based on international orders.While neither is comparable to the F-35, both represent good-enough alternatives for some countries.”
Military experts say if Canada chooses an older jet, it would be lowering its capability of operating against sophisticated surface-to-air missiles and long-range radars. But Trudeau is questioning the need for stealthy attack aircraft if Canada is not involved in first-strike missions.
“The primary mission of our fighter aircraft should remain the defence of North America, not stealth first-strike capability. That mission includes intercepting enemy planes and ships; American and Canadian fighter jets occasionally intercept Russian bombers in international airspace near their coastlines” he says.
The military experts say the F/A- Super Hornet is at the head of the list of replacement for the F-35.
Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis at the Teal Group says, “What they really want is something that guarantees air sovereignty, and frankly, the CF-18 has done the job and chances are the Super Hornet will do the job,” said
Had conservatives won the Canadian election, the government would have bought four to eight F-35s a year beginning in 2017.