Military and Strategic Journal
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Founded in August 1971


Gripen E, F-35 Lightning II and Super Hornet Block III Vie for Canada’s FFCP Contract

Acquiring the aircraft that Canada’s military needs to help ensure the safety and security of Canadians, while ensuring economic benefits for Canada, is a top priority for the Government of Canada. The Government announced on November 22, 2016 that it will launch an open, fair and transparent competition to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) legacy fleet of CF-18 fighter aircraft.

On December 12, 2017, the Government posted a notice inviting foreign governments and their fighter aircraft manufacturers together to demonstrate their suitability to participate in Canada’s Future Fighter Competitive Procurement (FFCP) process. The FFCP is acquiring 88 advanced jets, associated equipment and weapons, with set-up of training and sustainment services. The contract is estimated to be worth CAN$15 to 19 billion. 
On February 22, 2018, the Canadian Government posted the list of five initial suppliers — Dassault Aviation (with Thales DMS France SAS and Safran Aircraft Engines), Lockheed Martin Corporation, Boeing Company, SAAB AB and Airbus Defense and Space GmbH. 
Only the listed suppliers could submit proposals in the competition. 
From March 26 to April 11, 2018, initial meetings were held with the five supplier teams covering topics such as aircraft capability, procurement, sustainment and economic benefits. On November 8, 2018, the government of France and its commercial partner Dassault Aviation officially notified Canada of their withdrawal from the competitive process. Project discussions went on with the other four suppliers. On August 30, 2019, the UK government and its commercial partner Airbus too withdrew from the competitive process.
Three Bidders Shortlisted  
On May 20, 2020, Canada issued a Request for Proposal for the design and construction of a new fighter jet facility at 4 Wing Cold Lake. This facility will host three fighter squadrons and space for daily operations, maintenance, and training. Starting this infrastructure work is essential to enabling future fighter operations. It will ensure the facility is ready for the first aircraft deliveries, regardless of which aircraft is selected.
Canada issued a second Request for Proposal on June 17, 2020, this time for the design and construction of a new fighter jet facility at 3 Wing Bagotville. This facility will host two squadrons and include space for daily operations, maintenance, and training. These fighter jet facilities are essential to enabling operations of the future fighter and will accommodate any aircraft selected through the competitive process. 
On July 31, 2020, the Government of Canada received bids from all three suppliers currently eligible to participate. The current suppliers are:
Swedish Government—Saab AB (publ)—Aeronautics with Diehl Defence GmbH & Co. KG, MBDA UK Ltd., and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd.
United States Government—Lockheed Martin Corporation (Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company) with Pratt and Whitney.
United States Government—The Boeing Company with Peraton Canada Corp., CAE Inc., L3 Technologies MAS Inc., GE Canada and Raytheon Canada Limited Services and Support Division.
Saab’s Gripen E, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II and the Boeing Company’s F/A-18 Super Hornet are the current contenders to FFCP.  
Gripen E fighters With Advanced
Supported by Sweden, the Saab proposal comprises 88 Gripen E fighter aircraft, with a comprehensive support and training package and an industrial and technological benefits programme and business opportunities across all regions of Canada.
“Saab’s Gripen fighter is designed to operate in harsh environments and defeat the most advanced global threats. The system meets all of Canada’s specific defence requirements, offering exceptional performance and advanced technical capabilities. A unique element of the avionics design is that Gripen E’s system can be updated quickly, maintaining technological superiority against any adversary,” says Jonas Hjelm, Senior Vice President and head of Saab business area Aeronautics.
“With Saab and Gripen, the Royal Canadian Air Force will have full control of its fighter system. A guarantee to share key technology, in-country production, support and through-life enhancements will ensure that Canada’s sovereignty is enhanced for decades.”
A core element of the Gripen Industrial offering is the formation of the Gripen for Canada Team, which consists of IMP Aerospace & Defence, CAE, Peraton Canada and GE Aviation.
The Saab supplier team includes Diehl Defence GmbH & Co. KG, MBDA UK Ltd., and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd.
Gripen E is a multi-role fighter with outstanding capabilities and includes the ability to attack or assess opposition at range. Gripen utilises all available data in the battle cloud – whether coming from Gripen fighters or other air, land or sea-based units and fuses it locally on every platform, also fusing globally between fighters. The result: they see the unseen. Gripen E reduces its likelihood of being detected by relying on its passive sensors or through active jamming. This means that weapons can be used either beyond the point at which opposing forces can respond or without them ever realising Gripen was there.
Gripen E, a part of the Gripen E-series, has been developed to counter and defeat advanced future threats and is intended for customers with more pronounced threats or wider territories to secure. The E-series has a new and more powerful engine, improved range performance and the ability to carry greater payloads. It also has a new AESA-radar, InfraRed Search and Track system, highly advanced electronic warfare and communication systems together with superior situational awareness. 
Its advanced electronic warfare system, similar to an electronic shield, allows disruption of the enemy’s ability to function effectively. All this while ensuring mission success, using the latest weaponry and countermeasures.  According to SAAB, this freedom of action will help Gripen E pilots to defeat any threat and return home safe.
Gripen E achieves the optimal balance between the pilot’s and the fighter’s decision space, letting fighter intelligence take on a larger role. Gripen E’s fighter intelligence has the capability to work autonomously on several areas simultaneously and provides the pilot with suggestions ranging from anything between weapon selection and full manoeuvring of the fighter. It shares and displays the right tactical information, at the right moment giving an optimised battlespace overview.
Equipped with a smart avionics architecture, old algorithms can be replaced by new ones without reducing the high availability of the aircraft. The architecture is also the basis for making rapid hardware and weaponry updates, with a high degree of alteration for each customer nation. 
Gripen E has weapons for all types of missions, from guided glide bombs for precision engagement with low collateral damage, to long-range and agile air-to-air missiles and heavy anti-ship armaments. Additionally, the aircraft has an inherent precision strike and stand-off capability.
The single-seat Gripen E is equipped with a 27 mm Mauser BK27 gun. This can be used in air-to-surface attacks against land and sea targets and is suitable for air policing missions. Gripen E can also carry pods and sensors for reconnaissance and special missions. Almost any weapon can be integrated, giving Gripen E very high weapon flexibility.
5th Generation F-35 Lightning II
On July 31, Lockheed Martin submitted the F-35 Lightning II Request for Proposal response for Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project. Lockheed Martin have supplied the Royal Canadian Air Force with aircraft for more than 80 years, and the company says that the F-35 Lightning II offers the most technologically advanced capabilities at an increasingly lower cost for taxpayers, yielding tremendous economic benefits for Canada’s aerospace and defence industry.  
The 5th generation F-35 Lightning II integrates advanced stealth technology into a highly agile, supersonic aircraft that provides the pilot with unprecedented situational awareness and unmatched lethality and survivability. While each aircraft is uniquely designed to operate from different environments, all three F-35 variants set new standards in network-enabled mission systems, sensor fusion and supportability.

The conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A is a multirole, supersonic, stealth fighter that has extraordinary acceleration, agility, and 9-g manoeuverability. In the battlespace of the future, knowledge is power, and the F-35’s advanced sensor package will gather and distribute more information. The F-35’s tremendous processing power, open architecture, powerful sensors, information fusion and flexible communications links will make it an indispensable tool in future homeland defence, joint/coalition irregular warfare and major combat operations. 
The F-35’s unique mix of stealth and sensor technology will enable the Royal Canadian Air Force to covertly patrol, monitor and conduct surveillance without being detected. It has an operational mission radius greater than 700 nautical miles in low observable configurations and internal fuel capacity of nearly 19,000 pounds. When the mission doesn’t require low observability, the F-35 can carry more than 18,000 pounds of ordnance.
Besides, the F-35 is the fighter jet of choice for Canada’s closest allies. The United States, Denmark and Norway will operate the F-35 in the Arctic to counter increasingly sophisticated adversary threats. Quickly becoming the backbone of NATO airpower, the F-35 is interoperable with the United States and NATO, allowing Canada to integrate with the U.S. for NORAD operations, as well as with Canada’s allies in the Arctic.
At less than US$80 million, the F-35 truly is a 5th Generation aircraft at equal to or less than the price of legacy 4th Generation aircraft. With smart acquisition strategies, strong government-industry partnership and a relentless focus on cost reduction, the F-35 enterprise successfully reduced procurement costs for the Government of Canada.
According to the Statistics Canada model, approximately 50,000 jobs will be created in Canada through the selection of the F-35. To date, nearly 10,000 Canadian jobs have been created because of Canada’s partnership status in the F-35 global partnership programme. 
Thus far, Canadian companies have been awarded high value contracts as part of the F-35 global supply chain amounting to US$2 billion and approximately US$120 million in capital investment for facility upgrades. Yet to be measured is the export opportunities already realised by small and medium-sized companies stemming from the expertise they have gained as an F-35 supplier.  
Multi-Role and Multi-Mission F/A-18 Super Hornet Block III
Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet Block III is their response for Canada’s FFCP.  
Jim Barnes, Director, Canada Fighter Sales, Boeing Defense, Space & Security said: “We have a partnership with Canada that spans more than 100 years. We don’t take that lightly.

The response we submitted builds upon that great legacy and allows us to continue to bring the best of Boeing to Canada and the best of Canada to Boeing. The Super Hornet is the most cost-effective and capable option for the FFCP, and a Super Hornet selection will help the RCAF meet their mission needs, while leveraging existing infrastructure to drive down the long-term sustainment cost of the aircraft. Our proven, two-engine design can operate in the harshest environments and provide support no matter where the mission takes its pilots. That, coupled with Boeing’s 100 per cent guaranteed industrial plan, will also deliver long term, well-paying jobs.”
Serving as the U.S. Navy’s dominant force in the skies, the F/A-18 Super Hornet is purpose-built to meet most challenging mission needs. The next-generation Block III Super Hornet design integrates the latest displays, processing and data link technology to provide an open architecture mission system with advanced networking infrastructure both on and off board that can continue to evolve at a pace that far exceeds current competitor upgrade plans.
With the most weapons at range and the most affordable life cycle costs in the competition, as well as Boeing’s commitment to providing guaranteed work for Canadian companies, the Block III Super Hornet provides Canada a low-risk, evolutionary aircraft.
The next-generation Block III Super Hornet, uniquely suited for challenging Northern operations, is able to perform virtually every mission in the tactical spectrum, including cruise missile defence, air superiority, maritime strike, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defences, reconnaissance, forward air control and tanker missions.
When multi-role and multi-mission dominance is required in a single platform, the Super Hornet provides it. Supported by a 2-engine design, the F/A-18 is ideal for the NORAD mission. Additionally, the aircraft is capable of refuelling other Super Hornets, serving as a force multiplier for the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Advanced processing, networking, survivability and range/payload provide an operational advantage against technologically advanced systems and adversaries. Enhanced network capability works in tandem with advanced cockpit display and onboard sensor fusion to help RCAF pilots process intel and detect long-range threats. With 11 weapons stations, the Super Hornet gives pilots payload flexibility by carrying 400+ configurations of air-to-air and air-to-ground ordnance.

Advanced data link and threat detection allows Super Hornet to better receive, process and send key intel. An Advanced Cockpit System and long-wave Infrared Search & Track help pilots detect and target threats at long-range for battlespace situational awareness.  
With the lowest operational flight hour costs among all U.S. tactical aircraft in production, combined with lower procurement costs, Super Hornet Block III could saves billions of dollars over the aircraft’s 10,000+ hour lifetime.  
Boeing has consistently supported the aerospace industry by contributing more than CAD$4 billion of economic benefit to Canada each year.  
It recently completed its Industrial and Regional Benefit (IRB) obligation for Canada’s initial purchase of four C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, which was just over CAD$1 billion. Boeing not only met their obligation, but they exceeded it – completing it nearly one year early. If the Super Hornet Block III is selected, Boeing says it will commit to 100 per cent Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) obligation measured in Canadian content, which means more investment in Canada.
Next Steps
Contract award is anticipated in 2022 and the first replacement aircraft is expected to be delivered by 2025. All bidders are required to provide industrial targets in Canada equal to the value of their contracts. Bidders are also required to provide plans detailing how they will fulfil the Government of Canada’s economic benefits requirements, including supporting jobs and growth in Canada’s aerospace and defence industries over the coming decades.

Maximum points in the evaluation of Value Propositions will be given to those that provide contractual guarantees. Initial operational capability will be in mid 2020s and full operational capability by early 2030s. The world defence industry is waiting to find out who bags the CAN$19 billion contract. 
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