Vanguard Magazine

Aug/Sep 2013

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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n nexT-Gen FIGHTer by Vanguard Staff sUPer siZe me Is the bigger super Hornet the solution to cF-18 replacement? W hen the federal government hit the reset button on its quest for a replacement for Canada's CF-188 Hornet, it stressed that all options were on the table. That message was emphasized again in June when the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat (NFPS) provided an update on the progress of its seven point plan. To date, interested companies have been asked to provide information on three questionnaires around capabilities, price and, most recently, potential economic benefits to Canada. The risks and benefits of each aircraft will now be assessed against the government's six missions outlined in the Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS) and a mission risk assessment will be delivered to the government later this year. Based on that assessment, the government will then decide whether to hold an open competition. While most would contend the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter remains the leading contender, the re-evaluation of options has opened the door. Boeing, for one, believes the best replacement for an F-18 should be another F-18, albeit super-sized. But while Lockheed Martin has conducted a highly visible campaign to promote the benefits of the F-35, Boe36 AUGUsT/sePTeMBer 2013 ing has deliberately maintained a low profile on the Super Hornet while it waits for the outcome of NFPS process. Mike Gibbons, Boeing's vice-president of F/A-18 and EA-18 programs, said the low key approach is intended not to stir up public debate "any more than Canada would care for us to do. I think [the] process is being done so well that if we do a good job [with the secretariat], it will lead to a competition." Like many, Boeing had its concerns when a secretariat with its independent review panel and outside monitors was first announced. But Gibbons says the approach has been professional. "Based on the questionnaires and the questions that were asked in response to our answers, and the engagement we have had, it is clear they are sincere about getting good information so that they can do a very thorough evaluation. We believe that will clearly show that there are good options for Canada to consider." While the secretariat has not tipped its hand about specific air force requirements, it has asked "smart questions" about capabilities, systems, production schedules, long-term sustainment and growth potential. "The questions on the capability side are such that they ensure the jet will be Boeing FA-18F Super Hornet. Photo: Ronnie Macdonald relevant for the long-term beyond 2030, and those are good questions," Gibbons said, that could play to the Super Hornet's strength. Although the government has invested millions in the development of the F-35 – Canadian companies have secured US$488 million in contracts to date – Gibbons doesn't believe that has permanently tilted the playing field. "The investment is real. So now the value we have to show has to be from this point forward." In fact, Boeing's industrial and regional benefits approach might give it a decided edge. "We have a broad portfolio of military [and] commercial products," Gibbons said. "We've got a lot of support that needs to be performed. One of our value propositions is that variety of product lines that Canadian industry can engage in." As with the current F-18 fleet, that would include indigenous in-service support. Of note, three Canadian companies, Messier-Dowty, General Electric and DRS Technologies, are already providing components for the Super Hornet. canadian mission Given the successful history of the legacy CF-188s, Gibbons says the Super Hornet fits the Canadian requirements as laid out

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