Dassault Pledges $9 Billion in Rafale Work
Dassault has upped the ante in its upstart bid to supply the RCAF’s new fighter aircraft.
In an interview with the CBC in Montreal on Tuesday, Dassault Vice President Yves Robins said the French company will guarantee that $9 billion worth of contracts will be handed to Canadian companies if Canada chooses its Rafale fighter to replace the worn-out CF-18s that are now the country’s flrst line of defence.
Robins said the contract will also include technology transfer and maybe the opportunity to do final assembly of the aircraft in Canada.
“Should the Canadian industry wish to assemble or produce part of the Rafale in Canada, we are fully open to it,” Robins told CBC. “This is a commitment. A contractual commitment, even with penalties written in the contracts. We are not saying the Canadian industry could potentially, maybe go up to $10 (billion) or $11 billion by bidding for such-and-such contracts. We are saying we guarantee this return to the Canadian industry. It’s a totally different philosophy from some of our competitors.”
The financial commitment is seen as an aggressive game of one-upmanship aimed at a perceived weakness in Lockheed Martin’s proposal which would give Canadian companies the opportunity to bid for up to $11 billion in work against those from other countries who are partners in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. More than 30 Canadian companies are already working on parts of the F-35 under contracts worth $600 million but Lockheed Martin Vice President Steve O’Bryan told Canadian Aviator earlier this month that if Canada cancels its involvement in the program Canadian companies will be shut out of further bidding.
“We will honour the existing contracts,” he said.
Canada was one of the JSF partners until last year when the federal government called for a review of its involvement when questions about the total cost and the methods of estimating those costs were raised. The procurement was taken away from the Department of National Defense and handed to Industry Canada which has since finished its report into those questions and presented it to the government.
The choice in front of the politicians is whether to rejoin the F-35 program or launch a competitive bidding process which will allow other fighter jet manufacturers, including Dassault, to try to win the contract. Others in the running would be Boeing, with its upgraded version of the CF-18, the FA-18 Super Hornet and the Eurofighter.
The government hasn’t given any indication on when it might decide the fate of the fighter contract process but it has been sending signals of late that the economic factors are getting increasing weight.