There will be plenty of leeway in calculating the economic spinoffs from Ottawa’s purchase of the 88 F-35 fighter jets for $19 billion. According to a government presentation consulted by La Presse, the agreements between Canada and the manufacturers of combat aircraft are “non-contractual”, therefore not governed by a contract.
This information is contained in the summary of a “briefing” that took place on June 5th. It specifies in particular that the agreement with Lockheed Martin as well as Pratt
Since formalizing its order last January for 88 fighters to replace the aging CF-18s, the Trudeau government has repeated that the economic benefits to the country will be equivalent to the value of the contract. However, several questions remain unanswered.
“Objectives will be achieved within reasonable commercial efforts and contracts will be awarded to Canadian industry on a best value basis,” the 60-page document reads.
This kind of commitment remains vague for many players in the aerospace industry, which is concentrated in Quebec. Since the beginning of the year, we have wondered, for example, where the F-35 repair shop will be located and who will train the pilots who will sit at the controls of the fighters.
“I don’t see a coordinated strategy with the industry to go and make requests,” said one of them. We do not see much political will at the moment. »
The agreements concluded with Lockheed Martin as well as Pratt
“As part of the agreement, the F-35 vendor team will be required to provide an annual update on progress against their economic benefits obligations,” said Laurie Bouchard, director of communications for the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne.
According to the latter, other announcements will eventually be made about the maintenance of these modern devices as well as the training of pilots. According to the document that La Presse consulted, the manufacturers of the F-35 say they have concluded agreements in excess of 2.7 billion US dollars with Canadian industry since work on the program began.
Across the country, there are “36 active entrepreneurs” who participate from near and far. In Quebec, the landing gear and aeronautical components specialist Héroux-Devtek manufactures door locking systems for the landing gear of combat aircraft. Lockheed Martin argues that the more F-35s sold around the world, the more revenue suppliers will generate from the fleet in service around the world. The United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Australia operate or have committed to purchase the military fighter.
Richard Shimooka, a researcher at the Canadian Macdonald-Laurier Institute, who specializes in particular in defense issues, expects the F-35 to generate benefits in the country. The problem is that the laws of the market will decide the winners. Agreements will therefore not be guaranteed in advance and sprinkled throughout the industry. They therefore risk being shared across the companies that will be selected.
In the CF-18 replacement saga, Lockheed Martin’s only competitor was Saab, the manufacturer of the Gripen. The Swedish multinational had offered firmer prior guarantees in terms of economic benefits. Among other things, it promised the creation of 6,000 jobs that would be maintained throughout the 40-year life cycle of the fleet.
Quebec would have obtained half of these new jobs.
“We remain the only bidder that has committed to having Canadians build, maintain and modernize the fighter fleet in the country, providing Canada with ownership and control of these major defense assets,” said Patrick Palmer, Executive Vice President of Saab Canada.
He also said Saab is committed to establishing the Gripen Center, the main fighter support and upgrade center, in the Montreal area. Saab also planned to create several research and development centers, including an aerospace R&D center in Quebec that would be an incubator for new technologies in aerospace innovation.