By Brent Patterson, July 31, 2020
Today, July 31, is the deadline set by the Canadian government for three transnational corporations to submit their bids to manufacture 88 new warplanes for use by the Royal Canadian Air Force.
CBC reports: “By all accounts, U.S. defence giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing, and Swedish aircraft-maker Saab, have handed in their proposals.”
The Canadian government’s Future Fighter Capability Project website gives this timeline: “Evaluate proposals and negotiate agreement from 2020 to 2022; Anticipate contract award in 2022; First replacement aircraft delivered as early as 2025.”
The CBC article further notes: “The current government is not expected to make a decision on whether to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35, Boeing’s Super Hornet (a newer, beefier version of the F-18) or Saab’s Gripen-E for several months.”
Significantly, the article also highlights: “The federal government will have to start paying for [the new fighter jets] just as the navy is expected to start receiving the first of its new frigates. Both bills will come due at a time when the federal government will still be digging itself out of pandemic debt.”
Earlier this month, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that he expects a $343.2 billion deficit for the 2020-21 fiscal year. This is a dramatic increase from the $19 billion deficit in 2016 when the Trudeau government announced the bidding process for new fighter jets. Canada’s debt is also now expected to total $1.06 trillion in 2021.
Dave Perry, an expert in defence procurement who has followed the fighter jet file for a decade, tells the CBC: “When the government’s deficit is eye-wateringly large and its revenue hole is astoundingly high [a finance minister might] hesitate [to approve a military contract worth many billions of dollars].”
And University of British Columbia defence expert Michael Byers says the most likely outcome for the acquisition program in the current fiscal climate is the Canadian government opting to buy fewer fighter jets (perhaps 65 rather than 88).
On July 24, the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace initiated a cross-country day of action that saw protests in front of the offices of 22 Members of Parliament with the message #NoNewFighterJets.
World Beyond War also has this No New Fighter Jets – Invest in a Just Recovery and a Green New Deal! online petition.
And if a decision has not been made by June 2-3, 2021, the annual CANSEC arms show in Ottawa will be a critical moment in the fighter jet timeline purchase for a broader, popular mobilization to collectively say #NoWar2021.
For more information, please see the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute commentary No, Canada Doesn’t Need to Spend $19 Billion on Jet Fighters.
Peace Brigades International-Canada has also produced Five reasons to say no to spending $19 billion on warplanes.