Le Devoir reports that the Department of National Defence wants to skip a competition to choose a replacement for the CF-18 Hornet and quickly sign a deal to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (Alec Castonguay, “Avions de chasse: l’armée a fait son choix,” Le Devoir, 7 June 2010).
According to the newspaper, DND intends to recommend to Cabinet that the government buy 65 of the aircraft at just under $100 million apiece, for a total cost of about $6 billion (not including training, spare parts, maintenance, etc.; the full cost of the project would likely be closer to $9 billion).
Potential competitors such as Boeing (maker of the Super Hornet) would have just 15 days following publication of an Advance Contract Award Notice (ACAN) announcing the decision to demonstrate to Ottawa’s satisfaction that they could meet the requirements set out in the ACAN. Otherwise, the purchase would proceed without competition.
Lockheed Martin is reportedly offering a fixed unit price for the aircraft if Ottawa acts soon. It is also suggesting that more Canadian companies would be used to build parts for the aircraft.
The company (and DND) may fear that if a deal is not signed soon, pressure for spending cuts in Ottawa will lead to a smaller order or perhaps a decision to buy a cheaper aircraft–or even to kill the procurement entirely.
The Le Devoir article reports that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Growth and Long-term Prosperity will consider the DND proposal later this week, and the Committee on Plans and Priorities, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, could make a final decision as early as next week.
Daniel Leblanc, “Ottawa set to spend $9-billion on 65 U. S. fighter jets,” Globe and Mail, 7 June 2010