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Monday, June 12, 2017

Liberals Might be Changing Course on Interim Fighter Purchase

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

The Liberal government seems to be ready to change course on the interim fighter jet replacement program.

Last week Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Canada was still in discussions with the U.S. government over the purchase of Boeing Super Hornets as an interim fighter jet. This was despite the government’s anger and disappointment with Boeing who has filed a complaint about Bombardier.

Steven MacKinnon, parliamentary secretary to Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote, also told journalists that despite the Boeing complaint, the Liberal government was not talking to any other fighter jet companies. (But it had broken off any discussions with Boeing itself).

Now the interim fighter jet project looks like it could change again. Sajjan has suggested other fighter aircraft options could be examined. He told CTV’s Evan Solomon that, “Right now we are looking at many different options.”

“Keep in mind this all just happened,” he said in the interview with Solomon. “It does take time to be able to develop some various options.”
“We are committed to making sure that we have this capability gap filled,” Sajjan added.

When the Liberals announced that they would buy the Super Hornet as an interim fighter jet they argued that the plane was selected because a U.S. fighter was needed for the role. No other country could provide the needed aircraft, was the argument.

So based that, these new options Sajjan is looking at would only come down to something like the F-35 (which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised Canada would not purchase) or perhaps another U.S.-built fighter jet.

Is Sajjan bluffing? Would Canada buy 18 F-35s on an interim basis?