Five key questions remain unanswered about the purchase schedule of Canada’s new fighter jets

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Composite photo by Airforce Technology.

There are crucial questions that remain unanswered about the timing of the proposed $19 billion purchase of new fighter jets.

The Government of Canada is in the process of selecting a new fighter jet for the Royal Canadian Air Force. It plans to choose either the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, or the Saab Gripen.

It 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.”

The Future fighter capability project website also notes: “Contract award: 2022”.

Troy Crosby, the assistant deputy minister of materiel at the Department of National Defence (DND), recently told the Canadian Press the purchase is on schedule.

But these questions remain unanswered:

1– Given the evaluation of the proposals was to be completed in “spring 2021”, is there a more specific date beyond the assistant deputy minister’s comment to the Canadian Press that “the evaluation being completed this year”?

2– If the deadline is “Contract award: 2022”, by what specific date will that final decision be made and the contract actually signed?

3– Given the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) does not plan to do a life-cycle cost analysis of the purchase until one aircraft is selected, when will that study begin?

4– When would the PBO table that report in the House of Commons?

5– What length of time (days, weeks, months?) will there be between the tabling of the PBO report and the signing of the contract to purchase the fighter jet?

The Government of Canada says the acquisition of the new fighter jets, associated equipment, and setup to enable entry into service will cost $15-19 billion.

But the No Fighter Jet Coalition recently released this report that estimates the actual cost of Canada purchasing 88 new fighter jets could total $76.8 billion.

When will more information become available so that there can be an informed public discussion about the costs of these fighter jets?

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