The Canadian government has confirmed that Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is no longer an eligible contender for the Future Fighter Capability Project, the program to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18 Hornets.
In a 1 December news release, Public Services and Procurement Canada confirmed reporting from the Canadian Press last week that the Super Hornet had dropped out of the running, following an evaluation of the proposals. As previously reported, there are now only two competitors to replace the CF-18s, Saab’s Gripen E and Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning.
The news release also said that Ottawa would finalize next steps for the procurement process in the coming weeks. According to Public Services and Procurement Canada, Saab and Lockheed Martin’s bids will be subject to further analysis, with potential outcomes being proceeding to final negotiations with the top-ranked bidder, or entering into a competitive dialogue, whereby the 2 remaining bidders would be provided with an opportunity to improve their proposals. The “key milestone” brings the Canadian government one step closer to making a final selection in 2022, with the first aircraft deliveries taking place as early as 2025.
In response to a request for comment by Overt Defense, a Boeing spokesperson said:
“We are disappointed and deeply concerned by Canada’s announcement that the USG-Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet proposal will not be included in the next phase of Canada’s Future Fighter Capability procurement process. The F/A-18 Super Hornet Block III offers proven capability and interoperability to the U.S. and its allies, as well as brings unmatched capability and lifecycle value to the Royal Canadian Air Force and a robust industrial/economic package that would deliver 250,000 jobs and CAD $61 billion to Canada’s economy. We are working with the U.S. and Canadian governments to better understand the decision and looking for the earliest date to request a debrief to then determine our path forward.”
In the meantime the Royal Canadian Air Force has procured 25 Classic Hornets from the Royal Australian Air Force to augment the ageing CF-18 fleet with both aircraft and airframes to be cannibalized for spare parts. Australia officially retired its final F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets on 29 November, bringing to an end the Classic Hornet’s 35 years of service with the RAAF.