Mark Collins – F-35, or, Canadian National Fighter Procurement Secretariat Gone Poof– New Government’s Turn

Went poof many months ago.  Now it is up to the new Liberal government (which has pledged not to acquire the F-35 whilst at the same time holding an open and fair competition, go figure) to determine the precise nature of the bureaucratic way ahead to manage the procurement of the RCAF’s new fighter.  What the Conservative government did very quietly:


the Public Works Department disclosed to The Hill Times last Friday [Oct. 30] that the secretariat [National Fighter Procurement Secretariat] had been disbanded early this year because its work was done [no mention of that at the Secretariat’s website–but it was last modified “2014-12-10″–a clue there I guess].

“The secretariat was formed to implement government’s seven-point [action] plan. As the secretariat’s work under the plan has now been completed, there are currently no plans to produce and table a 2015 annual update [on the cost of acquiring and operating a fleet of F-35s over each plane’s 30-year lifecycle],”Pierre-AlainBujold, a spokesperson with the department’s media relations branch, told The Hill Times last Thursday, Oct. 29.

Asked whether the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat still exists, Mr. Bujold provided more information the following day, in the late afternoon.

“The Secretariat was formed to implement government’s seven point plan. As that work has been completed, it was disbanded in Winter 2015,” Mr. Bujold said in his follow-up email. “PWGSC continues to support all defence procurement by providing expert negotiation and contracting services to ensure best value for Canadians.”

When The Hill Times earlier asked the Department of National Defence about a decision last fall to extend the life of the Boeing CF-18 fighter jet fleet to 2025 from an earlier plan to retire the fleet by 2020, which would have been possible under an earlier plan to begin acquiring the Lockheed Martin jets in 2017, a National Defence spokesperson reiterated a longstanding government line that no decision had yet been made on the acquisition.

“No decision has been made on the replacement of Canada’s fighter fleet,” DND spokesperson Daniel Lebouthiller said in an email last Sept. 21, in the midst of the general election campaign. “To ensure that Canada retains a fighter capability during a transition to a new fleet, National Defence has extended the life expectancy of the CF-18s to 2025 [actually not, is working on that extension]…

Cute way the previous government had of letting us know how the procurement process was going eh?  Up to the newbies to do better but will they?  Very relevant:

“Aviation Week” on Canada’s New Fighter, CF-18 Service Extension to 2025

The RCAF’s New Fighter and Long-Term Sustainability: What About the US Navy?

F-35 and Canadian Election: Liberals Loose With Fighter Costs

RCAF Hornet Life Extension Cost/Smaller Fleet

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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