Capabilities, cost-effectiveness, job creation: Canada's future fighter jet must do it all

  • National Newswatch

When the federal government chooses the aircraft to replace its fleet of aging CF-18 fighter jets, it's the people of Canada who are actually buying those planes. With billions of dollars to be spent, they deserve to get the best possible value for their money as they enhance the defence of their country and their sovereignty.

First and foremost, the chosen aircraft must have the right military capabilities for Canada's needs. It must be fully interoperable with NATO and NORAD allies' fighter systems. It needs to be the most modern fighter available, by today's standards and for the many decades it will be in service. It needs to have reconnaissance and attack capabilities with excellent combat performance, including the ability to detect and neutralize enemy stealth fighters. In particular, it needs to be able to thrive in Arctic conditions and land in the most remote locations with quick landing-turnaround-takeoff time. Beyond supplying an aircraft with these essential military capabilities, a project of this magnitude should guarantee important industrial and economic benefits to Canada and Canadians. Providing technology and knowledge transfers to the Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian aerospace companies will take Canada's aerospace industry to the next level, enabling it to develop made-in-Canada innovations that can exported to the world. The opportunity to involve Canadian engineers in tailoring our future fighter system specifically to Canada's unique needs is unprecedented and cannot be overvalued.These combined elements will ensure that Canada's future fighter jet is procured at the lowest possible cost – not just at acquisition but throughout its operational lifespan, including the lowest flight costs, lowest fuel costs and lowest support costs possible.As Canadians find out more about the likely bidders to supply Canada's next fighter jet, they'll quickly discover there's only one multi-role smart fighter that meets all of these criteria: Saab's Gripen fighter. Gripen comes from Sweden, one of the world's most innovative countries and one of Canada's closest international partners that – by virtue of geography – innately understands what's needed for successful fighter jet operations in Canada's North.Saab is already a trusted supplier to the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Coast Guard.  Its Gripen fighter is the fighter jet of the future, now – a modern, ever-evolving platform built for easy ongoing upgrades that will ensure continuous capability enhancements. Gripen is already in service with Canada's NATO allies and fully interoperable with allies' fighting systems. It can integrate weapons from almost anywhere, giving Canada unparalleled flexibility in choosing what's right for its needs. It has the smart, versatile capabilities needed to win modern warfare, with excellent combat performance combined with the best life-cycle value and availability standards.The current stage of Gripen E development allows for input from Canadian engineers, so the system can be tailored specifically to Canada's unique needs. Saab's technology and knowledge transfer model – a genuine transfer of technology and knowledge – trains those engineers to design, build and maintain the jets in Canada, for Canada.  Aerospace industries developed as a result of the Gripen E program in Canada will provide opportunities for international expansion and create even more Canadian jobs up and down the supply chain.

Canadians expect an open, fair and transparent process that will deliver the best value for their money and the best aircraft for our country. By any measure, Saab's Gripen fighter will not just meet – but exceed – those expectations. Patrick Palmer is the Executive Vice President of Business Development and Sales at Saab Canada.