VICTORIA, British Columbia — Five European and U.S. aerospace firms have been approved to take part in the upcoming competition to provide Canada with a new fighter jet.
Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Saab, Dassault and Airbus were all named Thursday to Canada’s official fighter jet supplier list, which allows them to receive information about plans to buy 88 jets and ultimately bid on the program.
“We are pleased with the responses received from foreign governments and commercial entities that have the ability to meet Canada’s needs,” Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough said in a statement. “Our government is confident this will result in a robust competition.”
The project is estimated to cost CA$19 billion (U.S. $15 billion).
The approved suppliers don’t come as a surprise. Over the course of the last five years, those companies have all indicated their interest in providing new fighter jets to Canada.
The aircraft expected to be offered to Canada include Lockheed Martin’s F-35, Boeing’s Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale and Saab’s Gripen.
There were some questions about whether Boeing would put its name forth in the aftermath of a messy trade dispute with Canada and its main domestic aerospace firm, Bombardier.
In the midst of that dispute, Canada canceled a plan to buy 18 Super Hornets as a stopgap measure until the new fighters could be acquired. It will now instead buy used F-18 aircraft from Australia to fill in as “interim” fighters.
“Boeing and the US Government have taken the first step in Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP), and the Super Hornet is among the aircraft included on the FFCP Supplier List by the Government of Canada,” Boeing spokesman Scott Day noted in an email. “We will continue to evaluate our participation in the FFCP as the Government of Canada outlines the procurement approach, requirements and evaluation criteria.”
A request for proposals for the new fighter jets will be issued in 2019, Canadian government officials say.
A winning bidder is expected to be selected in spring 2021.
The first aircraft would be delivered sometime in 2025. Deliveries could take place between then and 2031. The new aircraft would replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s existing CF-18 fleet.
David Pugliese is the Canada correspondent for Defense News.