Loading articles...

New fighter-jet competition to have 'economic interest' requirement

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – The Trudeau government is adding a new requirement to how it picks the winners of major military contracts by assessing a company’s overall impact on the Canadian economy.

The government is also launching a full competition to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s with 88 new fighters, a move that comes in the midst of an ongoing trade dispute with U.S. aerospace giant Boeing.

Boeing has been eager to submit its Super Hornet to compete for the contract, which is valued at up to $19 billion and expected to start delivering jets in 2025.

But the government’s change to how competitions are run could have an impact on Boeing if its trade dispute with Canadian rival Bombardier is still alive and ends up being deemed harmful to Canada’s economic interests.

The Liberals are also officially abandoning a plan to buy 18 Super Hornets to temporarily boost Canada’s CF-18 fleet, saying they plan instead to buy 18 second-hand fighter jets from Australia.

Officials briefing reporters on background say details are still being worked out, but that the used Australian jets will cost significantly less than Super Hornets and can be put into action two years faster.