With Canada’s initial evaluation of fighter jet bids to be completed this spring, Saab adds space radar proposal to its bid
Saab Gripen E fighter jet.
The Government of Canada plans to spend $15 billion to $19 billion to purchase 88 new fighter jets for the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Three transnational corporations submitted bids for this contract on July 31, 2020: Lockheed Martin (F-35), Boeing (F/A-18) and Saab (Gripen E).
Public Services and Procurement Canada has stated: “The initial evaluation of proposals is anticipated to be completed by spring 2021, at which point Canada may choose to enter into dialogue with two or more compliant bidders and request revised proposals.”
That media release adds: “Canada will finalize terms with the preferred bidder prior to the contract award, which is anticipated in 2022.”
Skies has also reported: “Canada will select a winner by late 2021.”
Given this shortening timeline, the bidding appears to be intensifying.
On January 19, Wings reported: “At the AIx Space 2021 Conference, Saab outlined a proposed plan to establish a new facility in Canada as part of its offer for Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP).”
That article explains: “The facility would be known as the Saab Sensor Centre, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, with a focus on sensor technologies such as radar. …One of the proposed projects is to develop a Space Surveillance Radar (SSR) in Canada, in co-operation with other companies within the Canadian space industry. It is envisaged that this surface radar will target the global market for greater awareness of objects in the Earth’s orbit.”
What is space surveillance radar and does it have military applications?
Airforce Technology has reported that a “space surveillance radar” site on the Marshall Islands “[tracks] commercial and military satellites, depleted rocket boosters, as well as space debris primarily across the low earth orbit.”
Space News further explains: “Space domain awareness is the military term used to describe the ability to monitor and identify natural objects and satellites in orbit around the Earth and also in the lunar sphere”
At the virtual Halifax International Security Forum last November, U.S. General John Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, said technologies that contribute to space domain awareness are a pressing need for the U.S. Space Force.
And in their pitch for the research centre in Vancouver as part of their offer for the fighter jet contract , Saab Canada President Simon Carroll highlighted: “So much of modern life and military capability depends on space-based assets.”
The Saab webpage for its fighter jet bid can be read at: Gripen for Canada.
While the Government of Canada has priced the purchase of fighter jets at up to $19 billion, and the three corporations have highlighted the economic benefits, this No Fighter Jets campaign report has pegged the life cycle costs of the fighter jets at $76.7 billion.
The campaign argues that these public funds would be better spent on healthcare, education, housing, and clean water.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer is not expected to conduct an official evaluation of the actual cost of the fighter jets until the Government has chosen which fighter it intends to buy, which various reports suggest will be this year.