Air Force Association pushes CF-18 replacement

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the leading candidate to replace the CF-18

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the leading candidate for the CF-18 replacement

The Air Force Association of Canada is pressing the government to proceed as soon as possible on a replacement for the CF-18 fighter, David Pugliese reports. The Next Generation Fighter program, expected to cost as much as $10 billion, is intended to procure about 65 aircraft to replace the CF-18 in the 2018-2023 period:

The Canadian government should proceed with the Next Generation Fighter aircraft replacement as soon as possible if it is to meet its schedule of having a contract in place for a new plane by 2012, says the Air Force Association of Canada.

“The time is approaching to consider replacement of the CF18 fleet, with the need to sign a contract in about 2012,” the association noted in a newly released position paper sent to Defence Watch. The association did not take a position on whether the aircraft should be the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter. Instead it recommended the government grant approval for the acquisition to proceed either through a competition or a “down selection of a specific product.”

But DND sources tell Defence Watch that the Harper government, currently dealing with finding ways to deal with a $55 billion deficit, is not looking at moving quickly on a defence procurement program that could cost as much as $10 billion over the long-term.

“They are pre-occupied these days with other fiscal priorities,” added an aerospace industry representative who closely follows the Next Generation Fighter project.

Tags: Air Force Association of Canada, CF-18, David Pugliese, Defence lobby, Defence policy, F-35, Joint Strike Fighter, Military spending