Response to MP Paul Manly’s questions about the timing of Canada’s planned $76.8 billion fighter jet purchase

Published by Brent Patterson on

Video: On June 21, Paul Manly presented a petition in the House of Commons in opposition to the purchase of 88 new fighter jets. Last month, he submitted several key questions to the Department of National Defence about the timing of that purchase.

On May 5, Member of Parliament Paul Manly posed questions about the timing of the Government of Canada’s planned purchase of new fighter jets. This week he received a reply. Notably, the response that came from MP Anita Vandenbeld (the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence) included this information on key dates:

Early 2022 – selection of the successful bidder is anticipated

Late 2022 – contract is expected to be awarded

The response also notes: “Contract values will be made public, once an evaluation of costs is completed and a decision is made on the acquisition of a replacement fighter aircraft fleet.” This presumably means in early 2022 (though that is not entirely clear). The “evaluation of costs” refers to work being done by the Department of National Defence, not the Parliamentary Budget Officer (it’s unclear when that report would be done).

This timeframe suggests if the selection is to be made in “early 2022” and the contract signed in “late 2022”, next year will see more intensive campaigning on this issue.

And, given the speculation about a summer/fall election, it seems clear that the decision about the fighter jet will not happen until after that election.

QUESTION (Paul Manly)

With regard to the government’s acquisition of 88 advanced fighter aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force: (a) in what month are the successful bidder and aircraft expected to be chosen by the government; (b) in what month is a contract expected to be signed with the chosen bidder; (c) will the government conduct a revised cost analysis of the acquisition, and, if so, (i) when will the analysis be conducted, (ii) will the analysis be made public, and, if so, when; and (d) will the government sign the contract before the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s cost analysis of the acquisition is completed and made public?

RESPONSE (Anita Vandenbeld)

As outlined in Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, a modern fighter aircraft fleet is essential for defending Canada and Canadian sovereignty and contributing to our NORAD and NATO commitments, now and in the future. That is why on December 12, 2017, the Government launched an open, fair and transparent competition to permanently replace Canada’s fighter fleet with 88 advanced fighter aircraft. This project will provide a modern fighter capability to the Royal Canadian Air Force, ensuring that it maintains the ability to meet complex and evolving threats. This project will leverage Canadian capabilities while supporting the growth of Canada’s aerospace and defence industries for decades.

Parts (a) and (b) The Government of Canada is currently evaluating proposals for the Future Fighter Capability Project from the three eligible bidders. Selection of the successful bidder is anticipated in early 2022, at which time the Government of Canada will enter into discussions with the selected bidder to finalize the resulting contracts. A contract is expected to be awarded in late 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the project timelines with further impacts being possible. National Defence anticipates having more precise timelines at the completion of the proposal evaluation phase.

Part (c) i. and ii. The Government of Canada is currently evaluating the costs of acquisition of the Future Fighter Capability Project, as it is evaluating the proposals submitted by the bidders. Contract values will be made public, once an evaluation of costs is completed and a decision is made on the acquisition of a replacement fighter aircraft fleet.

Part (d) The Government of Canada will sign the contract once the Future Fighter Capability Project solicitation process has been concluded and appropriate approvals have been granted by Treasury Board.

The  response to the Inquiry of Ministry by Paul Manly (MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith) signed by Anita Vandenbeld (MP, Ottawa West-Nepean).

To read the No Fighter Jets coalition report (written by Emma McKay, Fiona McKay and Rachel Small) that estimates the cost of new warplanes at $76.8 billion, please see: From Acquisition to Disposal: Uncovering the true cost of 88 new fighter jets.

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