And then there were three….in November 2018 Dassault withdrew the Rafale from Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) to procure 88 new fighters for the Royal Canadian Air Force. On August 30, the Typhoon Canada team—comprising Airbus Defence and Space and the UK Ministry of Defence—also withdrew the Eurofighter Typhoon from the competition.
A statement from Airbus said that the team had reached its decision following a detailed review of the final Request for Proposal that was issued on July 23. The statement noted the team’s appreciation for Canada’s commitment to transparency and professional nature of the competition, and also reaffirmed its commitment to Canadian forces and aerospace industry.
Airbus cited two reasons for withdrawing from FFCP, the first of which concerns Norad security requirements, which the Typhoon team said places “too significant of a cost on platforms whose manufacture and repair chains sit outside the United States-Canada 2-EYES community.” Demonstrating how the Typhoon could be integrated into the 2-EYES network without knowing the full technical details would have also been a challenge.
This was believed to be one of the reasons that the Rafale was withdrawn earlier. In the case of the Typhoon, however, it was expected that Norad security requirements would be less of an issue given that, in RAF hands, the aircraft operates within the framework of the Five Eyes intelligence community that comprises Canada, the U.S., UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
Second, the Typhoon team “concluded that the significant recent revision of industrial technological benefits (ITB) obligations does not sufficiently value the binding commitments the Typhoon Canada package was willing to make, and which were one of its major points of focus.”
This referred to the recent changes made to the ITB requirements that were introduced to allow the Lockheed Martin F-35 to compete for FFCP. Under the original terms, in which bidders would have to legally commit to investments in Canada, the F-35 would have been ruled out, as the program is based on companies competing for work. As one of the nine industrial partners in the F-35, Canada signed up to that agreement in 2006. The new ITB requirements permit non-binding industrial target plans, rather than firm commitments.
The withdrawal of the Typhoon leaves three fighters in the running: the F-35, Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, and Saab Gripen. Both Boeing and Saab have also voiced their concerns about the changes to ITB requirements.