OTTAWA — U.S. officials have threatened to pull the F-35 out of the competition to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s aging CF-18 fighters over the Liberal government’s plan to ask bidders to re-invest some of the giant purchase contract in Canadian industry.
The warnings are in two letters sent to the government last year and obtained by defence analyst Richard Shimooka. They were released in a report published Monday by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute think-tank.
They say the requirement is incompatible with Canada’s obligations as a member of the group of countries working together to develop the F-35 stealth fighter in the first place.
While the re-investment requirement is standard for most Canadian military procurements, the U.S. officials note Canada agreed not to include it when it signed on as one of nine F-35 partner countries in 2006.
Companies in those countries must instead compete for work associated with the plane — only companies from those countries are eligible, but they’re supposed to compete on equal footing. The U.S. officials say conditions on bidders that would privilege Canadian companies will mean the F-35 won’t be entered in the race.
The F-35, which is built by Lockheed Martin, had been expected to go up against the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen and Boeing Super Hornet for an 88-plane procurement worth about $19 billion. French company Dassault pulled its Rafale from contention late last year.
“In summary, we cannot participate in an offer of the F-35 weapon system where requirements do not align with the F-35 partnership,” U.S. Vice-Admiral Mathias Winter, program executive officer for the Pentagon’s F-35 office, wrote on Dec. 18. “Such an offer would violate (the F-35 agreement) and place the entire F-35 partnership at risk.” (end of excerpt)
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