With the breaking news announced today from the Berlin Airshow that Dassault Aviation and Airbus are teaming up to build what can only be considered a "Fifth" or "Fifth & Half" Generation Fighter Jet.
|French air force flies Rafale B fighter jets like this one photographed in operations over Mali last year. Dassault Aviation wants Canada to choose the Rafale as a replacement for the CF-18, and is willing to have the planes assembled in Canada. (Anthony Jeuland/French Air Force)|
That leaves one question for those us of on the other side of the Atlantic. What does this mean for the RCAF CF-18 Replacement?
The official list of approved bidders in the process are: (In Alphabetical Order)
- France—Dassault Aviation (Thales DMS France SAS and Safran Aircraft Engines)
- Sweden—SAAB AB (publ)—Aeronautics
- United Kingdom and Northern Ireland—Airbus Defense and Space GmbH
- United States—Lockheed Martin Corporation (Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company)
- United States—The Boeing Company
In Canada's search for a new fighter jet - the Dassault Rafael and the Eurofighter Typhoon are among the options. While many consider the Typhoon too expensive, and the Rafael too limited in its use - they are not top contenders. This is despite Dassault having repeatedly offering to transfer technologies to Canada and build the Rafael aircraft in Canada. Others argue that both aircraft are also incapable of interoperability with the US and Canada's NORAD commitments. This argument seems weak - especially when you consider Rafael aircraft were used alongside USAF fighters in the recent bombing of Syria. I digress...
Canada has recently announced that it will extend the life-expectancy of its current fleet of CF-18s from 2025-2030. Will this announcement mean Canada might look to supplement its current CF-18 fleet until this new aircraft arrives? Will Dassault and Airbus be able to pitch or even offer it to the Canadian Government as a viable option?