Public Services and Procurement Canada says it will finalize the next steps in the fighter jet competition in the coming weeks
It is widely expected that the Canadian government will select the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet in the coming weeks.
On December 1, the Canadian Press reported that Public Services and Procurement Canada has officially announced that the Boeing F/A-18 has been dropped from the fighter jet acquisition process. That leaves as the two remaining contenders in the competition the Saab Gripen and Lockheed Martin F-35.
That article adds: “While Public Services and Procurement Canada says it will finalize the next steps in the competition in the coming weeks, it insists it is still hoping to award a contract [in 2022] in time for the first new fighter jet to arrive by 2025.”
The Government media release further explains: “Over the coming weeks, Canada will finalize next steps for the process, which, based on further analysis of the 2 remaining bids, could involve proceeding to final negotiations with the top-ranked bidder or entering into a competitive dialogue, whereby the 2 remaining bidders would be provided with an opportunity to improve their proposals.”
The Canadian Press article also comments: “There have been long-standing concerns in some corners that the entire competition has been set up from the beginning to select the F-35, which is being purchased by many of Canada’s closest allies.”
The Harper government selected the F-35 in 2010 without a competition process. In 2015, the Liberals vowed they would not purchase the F-35.
Two weeks ago, we noted these questions for Filomena Tassi, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and Anita Anand, the Minister of National Defence:
1- When will the Parliamentary Budget Officer conduct a full-cost assessment of the lifespan costs of these fighter jets? While the purchase cost may be $19 billion, the full cost over 30-years has been estimated by community activists at $76.8 billion.
2- Will a calculation be made on the greenhouse gas emissions from this fleet of 88 fighter jets? A basic calculation would suggest the fleet could consume 3.94 billion litres of fuel. At the COP26 climate summit there was a call for transparency in military emissions.
3- The current fleet of CF-18s has conducted an estimated 1,598 offensive bombing missions over the past 30 years. Murray Brewster of CBC News has reported on the refusal by the Department of National Defence to disclose the casualty figures from its bombing missions in Iraq and Syria. Will a comprehensive report on casualties be released before billions are spent on new warplanes?
4- At what point and how will the United States grant its “ultimate certification” of the Canadian government’s choice of a fighter jet? Lee Berthiaume of The Canadian Press has reported: “American officials will need to certify the fighter jet Canada buys at the end of a multibillion-dollar procurement [process].”
5- Will there be a parliamentary debate on the lifespan costs, carbon pollution, offensive uses and ultimate certification process prior to the contract being signed?
We look forward to answers to these questions and a fulsome public and parliamentary debate based on the information provided in those responses as well as clarification on the expected date for the signing of the contract.
A protest on the opening day of Parliament, November 22, 2021.