OTTAWA — A long-awaited market analysis into which fighter jet could replace the CF-18s tells the Harper government it can postpone a decision and keep flying the existing planes until 2025, but that will cost roughly $400 million.
The report by a panel of independent experts says the aging jets should not be flown much past that date because that would begin to pose an unacceptable, costly risk.
The research was done in order to help the government decide whether to continue with the troubled F-35 stealth fighter program, or hold an open competition.
Cabinet has yet to decide, but earlier this year Defence Minister Rob Nicholson’s office announced the CF-18s would get upgrades to keep them flying until 2025.
The department released no details on cost or risks.
The independent analysis looked at four different fighter jets and found each is equally capable of meeting Canada’s future needs, although both the Harper government and the air force have insisted for years that the F-35 was the only choice to replace the CF-18s.