Lieutenant General Dennis Luyt, Commander Royal Netherlands Air Force, addresses crowd at the unveiling of the first F-35 fighter plane to be delivered to the Netherlands, at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. (Max Faulkner/Star-Telegram via AP) File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The federal department responsible for procurement said Tuesday Saab, Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Boeing have until next spring to present initial proposals to provide 88 advanced fighters for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Canada launches multibillion-dollar bidding process for 88 new fighter jets

OTTAWA — Canada has formally asked four companies to submit bids to supply a new fleet of state-of-the-art fighter jets, the latest step in the country’s almost decade-long quest to upgrade its air force.

The federal department responsible for procurement said Tuesday that Saab, Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Boeing have until next spring to present initial proposals to provide 88 advanced fighters for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The jets — part of a procurement package worth about $19 billion — are to replace the country’s aging CF-18s, which have been in service for more than 35 years.

A winning bidder will be chosen in 2022, with the first plane scheduled to arrive “as early as 2025,” the government said.

“This is the most significant investment in the Royal Canadian Air Force in more than 30 years,” said a statement by Public Services and Procurement Canada. “With it, the government will deliver the aircraft that meet Canada’s needs, while ensuring good value for Canadians.”

Canada’s efforts to buy new fighter jets have crawled along for close to a decade.

The previous Conservative government announced in 2010 it would buy 65 F-35s, which are built by Lockheed Martin, without a competition, The first one was to be delivered in 2015.

The Conservatives later backed off their plan over concerns about the price and the Defence Department’s tactics in getting government approval for the deal.

During the 2015 federal election campaign, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals vowed to launch a competition immediately to replace the CF-18s — but not to buy the F-35. The Trudeau government, which replaced the Conservatives in 2015, later said the Lockheed Martin would be allowed to compete for the contract with its F-35 after all.

The Liberals launched the current procurement in 2016 and have been working on the details ever since.

Until the new jets arrive, the Liberal government has announced plans to upgrade Canada’s CF-18s. It has also signed a contract to buy 18 second-hand jets from Australia, a deal that officials have pegged at around $500 million.

Conservative MP James Bezan, the party’s critic for defence, criticized the Liberal government for delays in replacing the fighter jets. Other countries, he said in a statement Tuesday, chose their new jets in under two years.

“It is inexcusable that Justin Trudeau spent the past four years dithering on the fighter-jet file,” Bezan said.

He added, without providing details about how this would work, that if the Conservatives win October’s federal election they will “immediately select a new fighter jet through a fair and transparent competition.”

The F-35 will be up against Airbus’s Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab’s Gripen and Boeing’s Super Hornet. French company Dassault pulled its Rafale from contention late last year.

The big-ticket purchase is expected to provide a boost to the country’s economy.

Just Posted

Hazardous materials teams aiding in cleanup of fiery Alberta crash scene

CEREAL, Alta. — Police expect a stretch of southeastern Alberta highway that… Continue reading

One dead, others injured after fiery crash in southeastern Alberta

CEREAL, Alta. — One person is dead and others have been injured… Continue reading

Liberals unhurt, Tories not helped by scathing SNC-Lavalin report: Poll

OTTAWA — A new poll suggests a scathing ethics report on Prime… Continue reading

Alberta oil curtailment rules extended to late 2020 as pipeline delays persist

CALGARY — A program that allows the Alberta government to impose production… Continue reading

Alberta city votes to keep money flowing to supervised drug consumption site

LETHBRIDGE — City council in Lethbridge has voted down a motion that… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Thursday The Red Deer and District Garden Club hosts its annual Flower… Continue reading

Ethics commissioner ready to testify to committee today: NDP critic

OTTAWA — The NDP’s Charlie Angus says he expects ethics commissioner Mario… Continue reading

Beijing appeals to US to ‘meet China halfway’ on trade

Beijing appealed to Washington on Wednesday to “meet China halfway” and end… Continue reading

Inflation hits Bank of Canada 2% target for second straight month

OTTAWA — The Canadian annual inflation rate came in at two per… Continue reading

Workers escorted away during Border Services probe at Vancouver horse track

VANCOUVER — Several people were removed form a Vancouver horse racing track… Continue reading

RCMP originally planned to arrest Meng Wanzhou on plane, defence lawyers say

VANCOUVER — The defence team for a Huawei executive wanted on fraud… Continue reading

Alberta oil curtailment rules extended to late 2020 as pipeline delays persist

CALGARY — A program that allows the Alberta government to impose production… Continue reading

Alberta city votes to keep money flowing to supervised drug consumption site

LETHBRIDGE — City council in Lethbridge has voted down a motion that… Continue reading

Most Read