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The long-overdue replacement of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s fleet of Boeing CF-188 Hornets was highlighted Dec. 13 in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate letters to his new cabinet.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who had the fighter program in his sights throughout his first four years in the portfolio, and Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand, a newcomer to Parliament, have been directed to co-operate on finally getting a contract.
There are three remaining contenders: Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Lightning II, Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, and the Saab Gripen E/F.
Trudeau’s letter to Sajjan makes it clear that new fighters would be part of a renewed commitment not only to national defence, but also to the continental umbrella afforded by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) as well as meeting international commitments through the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
While cabinet veteran Navdeep Bains, minister of Innovation, Science & Industry, is not mentioned in Sajjan’s letter, he is referred to in Anand’s letter, mainly due to his ministry’s oversight of industrial spinoffs from the fighter contract.