HomeNewsAviationCanada Moves Closer to Delivering 88 Fighter Jets for the RCAF

Canada Moves Closer to Delivering 88 Fighter Jets for the RCAF

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The Government of Canada has reached another milestone in the competitive process to purchase 88 advanced fighter jets for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), which will ensure the requirements of the RCAF are met while also providing value for Canadians, generating high-value jobs in Canada as well as further growth for the Canadian aerospace and defence sector for decades to come.

Following a rigorous evaluation of proposals, the Government of Canada today announced it will now enter into the finalization phase of the procurement process with the top-ranked bidder, the United States (US) government and Lockheed Martin, for the F-35 fighter jet. This procurement represents the most significant investment in the RCAF in more than 30 years. It is essential for protecting the safety and security of Canadians, it will enhance our Arctic sovereignty, it will ensure we are equipped to better defend North America and it will help make sure we continue to meet our NATO and NORAD obligations well into the future.

“This announcement marks another important milestone in Canada’s competitive process to purchase modern fighter jets for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Canadians take great pride in their Armed Forces, and it is important to make sure that they have what they need to keep Canada safe and secure.”

The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Public Services and Procurement 

This represents a major milestone in this open, fair and competitive process. The multi-step assessment process took into account a wide range of factors, including capabilities, cost, as well as economic benefits and impacts. Recognizing that these fighter jets must effectively serve the RCAF and Canadians over the coming decades, Canada evaluated these aircraft against typical scenarios familiar to NATO and NORAD allies, which were further tailored to meet the needs of the RCAF, including Canada’s unique northern geography. We are confident that this competitive process will deliver the best results for the Canadian Armed Forces and for Canadians.

“It is critical that current and future Royal Canadian Air Force pilots have the most advanced equipment available to ensure they can deliver on the important work that we ask of them. This procurement project for the RCAF – the largest in over three decades – will help ensure Canada can continue to defend North America, enhance our Arctic sovereignty and meet our NATO and NORAD obligations in the face of current and emerging threats. Canadians can be confident that this competitive process will deliver the best results for our Canadian Armed Forces for decades to come.”

The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence

During this process, the government has concurrently been preparing the 2 main operating bases for Canada’s future fighter aircraft, 4 Wing Cold Lake and 3 Wing Bagotville, by awarding 2 contracts to undertake infrastructure upgrades to support the delivery of these future fighters. On August 27, 2020, National Defence announced a $9.2-million contract to EllisDon in Edmonton for the design of a new fighter jet facility at 4 Wing Cold Lake. On October 2, 2020, National Defence announced a $12.1-million contract to EllisDon-EBC Inc. Joint Venture of Ottawa for the design of a new fighter jet facility at 3 Wing Bagotville. This infrastructure will support the long-term maintenance and operation of these new aircraft and brings Canada another step closer to delivering the infrastructure our aviators need for the future.

“Canada’s aerospace sector is a world leader and is the top research and development spender among all manufacturing industries. This is one of the largest aerospace procurements in decades, and the resulting economic benefits will help sustain and grow this key industry’s global leadership position.”

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Going forward, the Government of Canada will continue to work toward the delivery of aircraft as early as 2025. 

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada launched an open and transparent competitive process to acquire new fighter jets in 2017.
  • Officials conducted extensive engagement with suppliers, including Canadian aerospace and defence industries, to ensure they were well-positioned to participate in the procurement. 
  • A formal request for proposals was released to eligible suppliers in July 2019. It closed in July 2020. 
  • An independent fairness monitor is overseeing the entire process to ensure a level playing field for all bidders.
  • An independent third-party reviewer was also engaged to assess the quality and effectiveness of the procurement approach. 
  • Since 1997, the Government of Canada has been investing in the Joint Strike Fighter Program, which has provided Canadian industry with the opportunity to become a part of the F-35 supply chain, and which provides for guaranteed access to the F-35. 
  • The Joint Strike Fighter Program is the largest fighter aircraft program internationally, and Canada is 1 of 8 original countries in the program, along with the US, the United Kingdom (UK), Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Australia. 
  • Allies and security partners, ranging from the US, the UK, Italy and the Netherlands in NATO, to Australia, Japan and South Korea in the Indo-Pacific, use or are in the process of procuring this aircraft. 
  • Over the past decade, this aircraft has undergone continual improvement and has been authorized for operations in multiple allied jurisdictions, and it will ensure the members of the RCAF have the most advanced equipment to do the important work that we ask of them. 
  • During the finalization phase, the US government and Lockheed Martin must successfully demonstrate that a resulting contract would meet all of Canada’s requirements and outcomes, including value for money, flexibility, protection against risks, and performance and delivery assurances, as well as high-value economic benefits for Canada’s aerospace and defence industry.
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