Boeing, Lockheed Among 5 Fighter-Jet Makers Queried by Canada

Canada has asked five companies, including Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., to outline the technical capabilities of their products to replace the country’s fleet of CF-18 Hornet fighter jets.

Boeing, Lockheed, France’s Dassault Aviation SA, European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. and Sweden’s Saab AB will have six weeks to provide information, Canada’s Public Works Ministry said in a statement today. The National Fighter Procurement Secretariat will send out a second questionnaire at a later date to obtain information on costs, the statement said.

The effort is part of a “rigorous examination of available fighter-aircraft options on the market and how they could accomplish the missions outlined in the Canada First Defence Strategy,” the government said.

Canada’s federal government announced in July 2010 that it would buy 65 Lockheed F-35s to replace the CF-18s, which McDonnell Douglas Corp. -- now a part of Boeing -- began delivering to the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1982. The CF-18s will reach the end of their lifespan sometime between 2017 and 2020, according to Canada’s Public Works Ministry.

The country’s top auditor later said that defense officials mismanaged the 2010 purchase plan, prompting the government last year to strengthen oversight of the jet-replacement plan.

Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose said in December that Canada would consider purchasing fighter aircraft other than the F-35 after a report prepared by KPMG LLP showed the 65 planes would cost C$45 billion ($43.8 billion) during 42 years.

Canada “is committed to examining all options” to replace the CF-18s, the government said today. “Engaging with industry is consistent with the secretariat’s commitment to transparency and openness, and integral to a comprehensive market analysis.”

Work “will be completed as expeditiously as possible and will culminate in a final report that captures the full analysis of the capabilities, costs and risks of each option,” the government said.