IssuesNational Defence

National Defence

First Published: Aug 26, 2019
Last Updated: Aug 26, 2019
Monitored by: Hugues Théorêt


Canada is not at war, but the government is in the midst of a battle to be fought between four fighter aircraft manufacturers who hope to get their hands on the lucrative contract for 88 new aircraft to replace the Canadian Armed Forces’ fleet of CF-18s.

The prequalified aircraft for the competition are the Lockheed Martin F-35; the Boeing Super Hornet; the Saab Gripen; and the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is made by a consortium that includes Airbus.

In 2015, Justin Trudeau's Liberals campaigned on the promise not to buy an F-35, but then changed their minds. The F-35 is one of four models expected to be evaluated as part of this $19 billion competition, which will result in the acquisition of 88 new fighter aircraft to form the backbone of the aviation force over the coming decades.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government awarded the contract for the design of its $60 billion CAD warship fleet to Lockheed Martin's team and therefore definitively chose the BAE Type 26 concept after negotiations that were almost compromised by a competitor's challenge in the Commercial Court.

Current Status

After years of waiting, slippage and endless debate, a federal government call for tenders to replace the Canadian Armed Forces’ fleet of CF-18s is finally due to be launched by mid-July.

It will be just before the election campaign, almost four years after the election of the Liberals who promised to start the process immediately upon coming to power.

Result? The choice of the winner will only be announced in 2022, and the first aircraft, delivered in 2025 at the earliest.


No specific proposals yet.


Begin talks with the United States to join the ballistic missile defence program. Select a new fighter jet that is “interoperable with our American allies”.


A New Democrat government will make sure that our troops have the equipment, training, and support they need to do the difficult and dangerous work we ask them to undertake.

NDP will keep shipbuilding procurement on-time and on-budget, and ensure that the work is spread out fairly across the country.

Fighter jet replacement will be based on a free and fair competition to make sure that we get the best fighters to meet Canada’s needs, at the best price.

A New Democrat government will make mental health support for members and their families a priority.
NDP also committed to putting an end to sexual harassment and assault in the military.

Green Party

No specific proposals yet.

People's Party

No specific proposals yet.

Bloc Quebecois

No specific proposals yet.

August 26, 2019
Roberto Chavez

The federal government is amending its search for a third shipyard to add to its multibillion-dollar national shipbuilding strategy.

The move follows a complaint last week from an Ontario shipyard to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal that the government was unfairly stacking the deck in favour of Quebec's Chantier Davie yard.

Heddle Marine of Hamilton specifically alleged several of the requirements the government wants shipyards to meet to qualify for consideration as the third yard were not legitimate or reasonable — and would disqualify virtually every yard but Davie.

The federal government has not directly responded to the complaint or allegations, but today says it is correcting an "inconsistency" in one requirement Heddle had flagged as a problem.

The government also says it is providing interested companies with more information about two other requirements Heddle had raised as a concern.

It is also extending today's deadline for shipyards to apply for consideration as a third yard until the end of the week.

August 13, 2019
Roberto Chavez

Despite the continuing diplomatic feud, China’s embassy in Ottawa says relations with Canada will “eventually be on the right track” and expressed willingness to increase co-operation with Canada’s military.  The softer-toned comments, found in a post on the Chinese-language version of the embassy’s website, stand in contrast to comments Beijing has made regarding the Huawei affair in recent months.

For example, the Chinese foreign ministry had warned Canada in June not to be “naive” to think its allies could put pressure on China regarding the detentions of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

However, the post on the website details a rather warm reception held at the embassy on July 30, celebrating the 92nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, the name of China’s military.

The event was attended by the embassy’s charge d’affaires, Chen Mingjian, as well as defence experts and professionals, overseas Chinese, representatives from Chinese-funded institutions, and Canadian MPs and military officials.

Wu Junhui, the military attache at the embassy, gave a speech at the reception. According to the post in Mandarin, he said the “Chinese military is willing to work closely with the Canadian military to enhance understanding and strengthen co-operation in various fields.” He said China-Canada relations face difficulties and challenges but that relations will eventually normalize.

“As long as the two sides adhere to mutual respect and equality, and value each other’s core interests and major concerns, relations between the two countries will eventually be on the right track, and the relations between the two militaries will remain stable and develop,” Wu said, according to the post.

The post also said attendees expressed optimism about the “long-term development prospects of China-Canada relations.”

Asked about Canada’s military relationship with China, a Department of National Defence spokesperson said, “Canada’s relationship with China remains a priority, and we continue to engage on defence and security issues. In complex bilateral relationships, there will be difficult moments, but we will continue to look for ways to move forward,” the spokesperson said.

August 9, 2019
Hugues Théorêt

On August 9th, CBC revealed that Military leaders from the U.S. and Canada have come to an agreement on the nuts and bolts retooling of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence  Command). It is a milestone that could end up pitting the next government in Ottawa against both the Trump administration and perhaps even northern Indigenous communities at home. Now over six decades old, the bi-national air and maritime defence command — and its associated airfields, radar stations and satellite network — has been in need of a major overhaul in the face of emerging threats, such as North Korean ballistic missiles and rapidly advancing cruise missile technology.

July 31, 2019
Hugues Théorêt

The U.S. Air Force F-35 demonstration team will visit Ottawa in September on the eve of this fall's federal election — just as the competition to replace Canada's aging CF-18s starts heating up. The stealth fighter is one of four warplanes in the $19 billion contest, which was formally launched with a request for proposals by the Liberal government.

July 23, 2019
Hugues Théorêt

On July 23rd, Canada officially asked four companies to send in their bids to supply a new fleet of fighter jets for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The 88 jets are to replace the country’s aging CF-18s, which have been in service for more than 35 years. Public Services and Procurement Canada says Saab, Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Boeing have until this fall to demonstrate that they can meet requirements for security and interoperability with allied countries’ forces, and until 2020 to make what the government calls “initial proposals.”

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