Airbus Defence and Space has announced it has withdrawn the Eurofighter from the competition to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18 Hornet.
The Eurofighter’s withdrawal follows a similar move by Dassault with its Rafale last year, with both companies citing difficulties in complying with Canada’s intelligence security requirements surrounding the North American Air Defence (NORAD) mission it performs in conjunction with the US.
“Airbus Defence and Space is proud of our longstanding partnership with the Government of Canada, and of serving our fifth home country’s aerospace priorities for over three decades,” president of Airbus Defence and Space Canada, Simon Jacques said in a statement. “Together we continue in our focus of supporting the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, growing skilled aerospace jobs across the country and spurring innovation in the Canadian aerospace sector.”
The decision comes after the formal release of the RFP in July. The withdrawal leaves just three fighters in the mix; Saab’s JAS-39E/F Gripen, the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II.
Canada remains a partner nation on the multi-national JSF program which spawned the F-35A, and Canadian industry has several billion dollars of work on the program to date.
In 2016 Canada was approved by the US Government to buy an interim fleet of 18 Super Hornets to complement its CF-18 fleet. But that process too was cut short after Boeing claimed Canadian manufacturer Bombardier had ‘dumped’ CSeries airliners onto the US market with the aid of Canadian federal and provincial tax subsidies, a claim which was initially upheld by the US Department of Commerce which suggested imposing a nearly 300 per cent tariff on the CSeries.
Following the US Trade Commission’s January decision to dismiss Boeing’s complaint, the Super Hornet is again in contention. But rather than pursue the interim fighter option, Canada instead will acquire 25 former RAAF F/A-18A/B Hornets to bolster its similar CF-18 fleet until their planned withdrawal on 2028-2030.