Saturday, March 9, 2013

Canada Looking at Alternatives to F-35 for CF-18 Replacement

In July 2010, Canada had announced that it would acquire 65 F-35 aircraft to replace its CF-18, which would reach the end of their lifespan sometime between 2017 and 2020.

The CF-18 is a slightly modified version of the F/A-18A/B Hornet, which entered service starting in 1983. The remaining aircraft of about 78 have since been upgraded to the F/A-18C/D standard.

However, the decision to select the F-35 from Lockheed Martin without a competition or cost analysis has been severely criticised by several different sources.

In December last year, Canada stated it would consider purchasing fighter aircraft other than the F-35 after a KPMG report estimated the cost of those 65 aircraft would amount to $43.8 billion over a period of 42 years.

Canada has now asked five companies,
  • Boeing
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Dassault Aviation
  • European Aeronautic, Defense & Space Company (EADS)
  • Saab
to provide detailed technical information on a potential replacement for the CF-18, throwing open the race to win Canada's selection of its future fighter aircraft at the expense of the F-35.

Although the F-35 may again be selected as Canada's future fighter, this decision is another setback for the F-35 program, which has encountered numerous delays and other problems.

Should Canada, one of the eight F-35 partner countries of the US, not select the F-35, it would join several other countries, which have already delayed or reduced the number of F-35 aircraft to be procured.

Australia, another one of the eight partner countries, has already procured the F/A-18E/F recently and may buy more, which is almost certain at the very least reduce the number of F-35 to be purchased.

Boeing intends to again offer the F/A-18E/F to Canada as a candidate to replace the CF-18, where it will go up against the F-35, the Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Gripen fighter aircraft.

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