Canada Considering Entering New Fighter Sweepstakes

by: Matthew Potter
May 30, 2010

Category: Australia, Boeing, Brazil, Business Line, Canada, Companies, Contract Awards, Countries, development program, Events, Holland, India, Lockheed Martin, Military Aviation, northrop grumman, production program, Proposal, SAAB, Services, Sweden, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy | RSS 2.0

Right now two of the biggest military aviation contracts out there are new fighters for Brazil and India. Both of these contracts have attracted bids from United States and European defense contractors. In Brazil the contest seems to be between the Boeing (BA) F/A-18 and the French Rafael. In India there have been offers from Boeing, Lockheed Martin (LMT), MiG of Russia, Rafael. Eurofighter and SAAB of Sweden. These contracts are interesting as all of these companies face declining markets at home due to budget difficulties and the decision by the U.S. and many of its Allies to focus on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) headed up by Lockheed.

Canada currently operates a force of older F/A-18 aircraft and is planning a potential buy of more modern aircraft worth about $9 billion (Canadian). Canada has put some money into the development of the JSF as have countries like Great Britain, the Netherlands, Australia and Japan but is not committed to buy the aircraft. They certainly could do that when the aircraft is ready in the 2015 – 2017 time frame or they could conduct a new competition. If they did this they would certainly draw a diverse group of suitors similar to what India has. The market for new fighters was supposed to stagnate as thousands of F-35 replace the F-16 aircraft of numerous U.S. Allies. Now with the delays and cost increases to that program some countries are having second thoughts.

A third major competition would be good for the industry and would allow some production lines like the SAAB Gripen to remain hot as the JSF program tries to get itself sorted out. If countries like Holland do decide to go a different path the market for current in production aircraft will increase greatly.

More fallout as the JSF program struggles with its cost and schedule may be expected as current customers re-think their commitments. This will increase the cost to the U.S. military while reducing Lockheed’s chances of making up some of their losses on the development piece of the contract. Canada if they choose to not buy the JSF may be the start of some bad news for the program and its prime contractor.

Photo from TMWolf flickr photostream.

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