Draft RFP released for fighter procurement

The Canadian government has released a draft of its request for proposals (RFP) for its next fighter jet.

Canada is looking to replace its aging fleet of CF-188 fighter jets. Mike Reyno Photo
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Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) on Oct 29 issued a preliminary version of the RFP to the five teams eligible to bid on the $15 to $19 billion replacement program for the CF-188 Hornets.

The five potential bidders–the Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and Boeing Super Hornet, both from the United States; the Dassault Aviation Rafale of France, with support from Thales and Safran Aircraft Engines; Sweden’s Saab JAS 39 Gripen; and the United Kingdom- and Northern Ireland-backed Eurofighter Typhoon from Airbus Defence and Space–will have about eight weeks to review and provide feedback on the proposed strategy to evaluate the tender process.

The feedback will be used to refine a formal RFP to be released in spring 2019.

Canada will be seeking 88 advanced fighter jets as well as weapons systems, supporting infrastructure and proposals for through-life sustainment. An independent fairness monitor and an independent third-party reviewer, PricewaterhouseCoopers, have been brought in to validate the procurement documents and process.

“Proposals will be rigorously assessed on elements of cost, technical requirements and economic benefits,” PSPC said in a statement. “The evaluation will also include an assessment of bidders’ impact on Canada’s economic interests.”

That last condition was introduced to the process after Boeing challenged the terms of the sale of 75 Bombardier-built C Series to Delta Air Lines in 2016, arguing the planes were sold below cost because of unfair subsidies.

Carla Qualtrough, the minister responsible for federal procurement, foreshadowed the release at a conference on Oct. 25, 2018, in Ottawa, telling an audience of military, government, academic and industry representatives that the government was ready to proceed with the draft RFP after re-launching the fighter project in December 2017.

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“This is an important milestone after months of effort and consultations,” she said. “We will be working with suppliers over the coming months on these drafts.

“Our fighter jet process is one of the largest procurements the government has ever undertaken. And it represents the most significant investment in the Royal Canadian Air Force in more than 30 years,” she added. “Three years ago, we were at a complete standstill with this process. Today, I am happy to report that this ambitious undertaking has found real momentum.”

The first aircraft are expected by 2025. In the interim, the government will upgrade the current fleet of 76 CF-188 Hornets and is concluding a deal with the Australian government to acquire 18 F-18 jets and associated spare parts from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to augment to the fleet. Delivery of the first two RAAF fighters is slated for late 2019.

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