OTTAWA --- Canada is facing a complex challenge as it gets ready to launch a full competition for new fighter jets stemming from its long-standing involvement in the international coalition that is building the Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 stealth aircraft.
The federal government confirmed on Monday that it will maintain its membership in the F-35 consortium. At the same time, Ottawa is getting ready to send out requests for proposals for new fighter jets to five potential bidders, including Lockheed Martin.
Federal officials insist that all bidders will have to adhere to Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits policy (ITB), which requires the winning supplier to “make investments in Canada equal to the value of the contract." The cost of replacing the Royal Canadian Air Force’s current fleet of CF-18s is estimated at $26-billion.
Under the rules of the F-35 consortium, however, partner countries such as Canada must forego such regional offset programs, which have long been a central element of Canadian military acquisitions. Earlier this year, Canada paid $54-million to remain in the F-35 buyers’ pool.
“We’re keeping our involvement alive to get access to that product at the best possible terms,” Pat Finn, an assistant deputy minister at the Department of National Defence, said in an interview on Monday. “If the F-35 were to win, the lowest cost access to the aircraft is through the partnership. Having been involved from the outset, we don’t want to lose the privilege of that."
Since 1997, Canada has paid nearly half a billion dollars to stay in the F-35 consortium. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full speech, on the Globe & Mail website.