New Fast Jets for Canada

The apparent procrastination in the timing of actually bringing planes into service isn't because of a reluctance to pick the F-35. The delays were mainly because of the original decision to pick the F-35 back in the early 2010s, before the government of the day back-pedalled on it. The schedule for replacement of the F-18s was constructed entirely around the most favourable schedule for the F-35.

When F-35 development faced repeated lengthy delays with no resolution in sight however, the government were forced into contracting for several series of major upgrades to be done to the F-18 by an aerospace contractor in Montreal. Australia had their F-18s receive some of the same upgrades in Canada by the way, and they also bought some newer model F-18s to supplement the existing fleet (Canada was going to do the same, but then got into a pissing match with Boeing over other critical issues).

The much delayed F-35 development, combined with the upgrades to the F-18s, reset the replacement schedule to the mid 2020s, again to present the most favourable case for the F-35, as that was when it was scheduled to be in peak production and so offer the lowest price.

Officially though, Harper refused to make a final decision as he found the whole subject just too politically unpalatable. This was especially the case after LM had made him look like a complete muppet to the public by feeding him deliberately misleading information on costs when he personally intervened to try to sort things out.

This was the situation and the timeline the current government inherited when they came to power at the end of 2015. By that point the timing was fixed by factors resulting from previous decisions, and what was left to them was to provide a decision process that would operate within that timeline while meeting the legal requirements as laid down in the Auditor General's Report.

If instead of making everything try to fit what was most convenient for the F-35, we had instead simply picked from amongst what was actually ready for full service in the mid 20-teens, we would probably right now be just finishing off the final delivery of new planes and the retirement of the old ones right now, and there is a good chance that we would be flying Typhoons right now.

Yes we absolutely could have made a decision in say 2012 or 2014, but that decision would have had to be to not buy the F-35 and to buy something else. It was the insistence that the round peg of buying new fighters had to be pounded into the square hole called the F-35 that led to we are where we are today.
Typhoon is the perfect fit for Canada.
However, it is out of the picture now due to opposition from the US via NORAD.
Which is curious as the UASF types I’ve chatted with in the past, are impressed with it.
What was their objection (apart from the real one)?
Supposedly they have security objections to kit made outside of the US being allowed to communicate with the NORAD network. This objection seems to have been raised at the last minute with respect to Typhoon however, and so may be more of a trade related issue in trying to prevent non-US companies from competing.

For some reason Saab seem to still be in the game with Gripen, but they may not been seen as a serious competitor.


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Supposedly they have security objections to kit made outside of the US being allowed to communicate with the NORAD network. This objection seems to have been raised at the last minute with respect to Typhoon however, and so may be more of a trade related issue in trying to prevent non-US companies from competing.

For some reason Saab seem to still be in the game with Gripen, but they may not been seen as a serious competitor.
What? Those damn fine chaps south of your border behaving like a dodgy car salesman ? Say it ain't so !
Here's the Saab announcement in Canadian Defence Review. It's basically the same as the article in the post by @rampant .
It's just an announcement that they are still in the game, and they've listed their partners as being
  • IMP Aerospace & Defence
  • CAE
  • Peraton Canada
  • GE Aviation
IMP are an aerospace manufacturer, providing various structural components for aircraft and helicopters, as well as doing repair, overhaul, and upgrade in the defence and civil markets in Canada and overseas. As a manufacturer they supply "Boeing, Bombardier, Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin, Stelia Aerospace, and Spirit Aerosystems".

CAE should be well known to anyone familiar with the aerospace business, as a leading supplier of aircraft simulators and training systems.

Peraton Canada are owned by Peraton in the US, and were once part of Harris, a long established US defence contractor. Peraton Canada currently do avionics support for the F-18 in Canada.

GE Aviation are an engine manufacturer.

Saab's plan is that IMP will do assembly of the plane in Canada and then provide in-service support throughout the life cycle. CAE will provide training and mission support systems, Peraton will provide avionic support and test systems, and GE will provide and support the engines.
IMP Aerospace & Defence will contribute with in-country production and in-service support for the life of the Canadian Gripen fleet. CAE will provide training and mission systems solutions, while Peraton Canada will provide avionic and test equipment component maintenance, repair and overhaul, and material management. GE Aviation will provide and sustain the fighter’s engines in Canada.
It looks like Saab have put together a serious proposal to deliver and support the Gripen in Canadian service.
Boeing may ask for a delay in submitting their final proposal to Canada for new fighter jets due to COVID-19.
COVID-19 latest hurdle in Canada's long road to buying new fighter jets
The issue appears to be problems relating to putting the proposal together from confidential documents while so many people at Boeing are working from home.

The bids are supposed to be in by the end of June. The Canadian government are still saying they expect the vendors to meet that deadline, so it sounds like Boeing have not yet formally asked for a delay.

The possibility of a delay is based on the following quote from an interview by a Boeing executive. Various Canadian news sources are quoting this, but they don't say where it is from and I haven't seen the original interview.
"It's challenging, there's no question about it," Jim Barnes, the Boeing executive responsible for trying to sell the company's Super Hornet jet to Canada, said in an interview on Tuesday.

"We want to make sure we put the most competitive offer on the table for the government of Canada to evaluate and we feel like we can put a very compelling offer. If we feel like we don't have time to finalize that competitive offer ... we would certainly ask for an extension."
The other two remaining bidders, LM and Saab, both say they are confident of meeting the deadline.

It's probably not worth reading the story itself as most of it is just speculation on what a problems COVID-19 could pose for organising a project of this nature at this time.

Bid submission has already been delayed once at the request of one of the bidders for more time (this came before COVID-19 and was unrelated to it).
Funnily enough we are going through a similar process and others asked for bid submission extensions. Its a case of "is it an advantage to not ask for an extension or do you take advantage of it?".
So Boeing aren’t ready, we know LM will be twisting the Canadians.
I really hope they go for the Grippen, anything to fcuk the septics aircraft industry off.
The latest edition of Canadian defence industry trade publication "Canadian Defence Review" have two articles of relevance.
The first is about Saab's Gripen offer to Canada. The article is a bit light on detail, but there is some discussion about cockpit equipment and what sorts of weaponry it can currently carry.

In the article Saab places an emphasis on the following aspects:
  • Extensive transfer of support capability to Canada, allowing national control of support, maintenance, and upgrade cycle decisions.
  • The planes will be assembled in Canada. This seems intended to reinforce the previous point.
  • Demonstrated close inter-operability with other NATO countries.
  • Saab has provided critical electronic kit for Canada's frigates. This seems to be oriented towards allaying concerns about inter-operability.
  • The importance of national control again, while pointing out that the US tried to cut off Canada's supplies of critical PPE during the pandemic, with the implication that they might do the same with defence equipment.
The "national control" theme seems to be a major point Saab intend to emphasise.

The second article is about the upgrades to Canada's CF-18s which will be taking place to extend their usefulness out to end of life. These upgrades are being done in cooperation with the US Marines, who are also upgrading their own F-18s in a similar manner.

These changes include new navigation equipment (ADS-B, GPS, and others) to meet new international regulatory requirements. Also there will be a modernisation of IFF, datalinks, and simulators. This is the basic upgrade package which all the planes will get.

In addition to those, 36 will get additional upgrades, including a new AESA radar to replace the existing one. This is apparently a version of the same radar used in the Super Hornet. The US Marines will be getting this upgrade in 2021, and Canada will follow after that.

There will also be upgrades to Sidewinder and AMRAAM missiles. The article states that the capability to use the air to surface Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) will be added, but it's not clear if this is just a capability which comes along with the upgrade package or whether Canada will actually be buying the missile.

Those jets which get the phase 1 upgrade only will be the first to be retired when the new replacement aircraft start to arrive. Those getting the phase 2 upgrade will be the last to be phased out, in 2032.

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