Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canada kicks tires on other military aircraft

Stealth fighter's rival companies asked to fill out questionnaires

  • Print

OTTAWA -- A questionnaire meant to gauge what options exist to replace the air force's aging CF-18 fighters has landed on the desks of aerospace companies in North America and Europe.

The 15-page survey is considered the first step in evaluating whether the Conservative government should bail out of its planned and controversial F-35 stealth fighter deal with U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin.

It is considered a "draft" and asks potential rivals to outline the capabilities of their aircraft but does not request detailed cost information.

That will come in a followup survey next month. It also leaves the door open for aerospace companies to give suggestions on what questions the government might have missed, or what technical aspects should be explored.

Lockheed Martin has been asked to fill out the survey along with other potential bidders including: U.S.-based Boeing with its Super Hornet; the EADS Eurofighter, also known as the Typhoon; Dassault, which is selling its French-built Rafale; and the Saab-manufactured Gripen from Sweden.

The request for information falls short of the demand by critics and the opposition to open the program up to a full-fledged competition, but is part of the government's promise to review all of the potential options to replace the CF-18s.

Last spring, in a scathing report, auditor general Michael Ferguson accused National Defence and Public Works of hiding the full cost the F-35 Lightning and not following the proper procedures.

The government said in 2010 it intended to buy the stealth fighter, stating it was the best and "only" option to replace the current fleet.

But since the auditor's report, which caused a storm of political and public criticism, the government committed to reviewing other options through a committee of independent experts.

The review is expected to shed light on whether the Conservatives will end up sticking with the F-35 or abandon it in favour of a full-on competition.

Lockheed Martin issued a statement late Friday, saying it had received the questionnaire and defended the stealth fighter as the best choice for Canada.

"The F-35 continues to be the best solution for CF-18 replacement from both a capability and cost perspective," said the statement.

"The F-35 program, in which Canada has been a committed partner since 2001, has and will create and sustain thousands of Canadian company jobs and provide industrial benefits far greater than the cost of procurement."

A spokesman for EADS acknowledged it had also received the survey and would respond.

"The Eurofighter consortium has had communication with Canada and will assist them whenever possible," Theodor Benien said in an email.

But a longtime critic of the F-35 program said there is deep skepticism in the defence community about the path the government has taken.

Each aircraft maker has secret information on the capabilities of their aircraft, something they would be reluctant to share without the guarantee of a full competition, said Alan Williams, a former senior defence bureaucrat.

"You're not going to get the kind of specific, detailed technical requirements through a questionnaire," Williams said.

"My advice is, if they're serious, do the right thing the right way."

There is also wariness among European aerospace companies, many of whom are wondering whether the U.S. will lean on Canada to stick with either Lockheed Martin or Boeing, said Williams.

"People need to be sure the fix isn't in for one or the other," he said. "Industry should know, if it puts its best foot forward, makes its best bid, it has a chance to win and that hasn't been seen as the case lately."

Also Friday, Public Works announced it has awarded a $161,950 contract to Samson & Associates to conduct an independent review of the steps the government took in the F-35 process prior to June 2012.

Critics have scoffed at the long-anticipated procedural review, accusing the government of politely trying to whitewash the auditor general's criticism.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 26, 2013 A20

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Paul Maurice addresses media at end of 13/14 season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(Standup photo)- Humming Around- A female ruby -throated hummingbird fly's through the bee bomb  flowers Friday at the Assiniboine Park English Garden- Nectar from flowers are their main source of food. Hummingbirds wings can beat as fast as 75x times second. Better get a glimpse of them soon the birds fly far south for the winter - from Mexico to South America- JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- Sept 10, 2009

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you agree with the province’s crackdown on flavoured tobacco products?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google