Dassault withdraws from Canada fighter comp

written by australianaviation.com.au | November 11, 2018
A RAAF Hornet flies in formation with French Rafales. (Richard Nicolas-Nelson)
A RAAF Hornet flies in formation with French Rafales. (Richard Nicolas-Nelson)

French manufacturer Dassault Aviation has withdrawn its Rafale fighter from Canada’s fighter replacement program.

The withdrawal reportedly comes after Dassault raised concerns over its ability to meet Canada’s interoperability and intelligence sharing requirements.

“On November 8, the French government officially notified Canada of its withdrawal from the competitive process to replace Canada’s fighter jet fleet,” a Public Services and Procurement Canada spokesperson told DefenseNews.


“We will continue to work closely with the remaining eligible suppliers to ensure they are well-positioned to participate in the ongoing competition.”

Canada is seeking 88 new combat aircraft to replace its fleet of CF-18 Hornets, and draft industry responses were required to have been submitted by the end of the year. Dassault’s Rafale was expected to be a leading contender along with the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab JAS-38E/F Gripen, Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35.

Despite being a founding partner in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program which developed the F-35, Canada paused its planned acquisition of that aircraft in 2014 following the election of the Trudeau government. An interim order for 18 Super Hornets was subsequently placed but was cancelled last year after a trade disagreement with Boeing and the US Government over tax subsidies and pricing of the Bombardier CSeries (now Airbus A220) airliner which is built in Canada.

Canada has a requirement for a package of guaranteed industry offset work for whatever new aircraft it selects, and this may have been another factor in Dassault’s decision to withdraw.


Formal bids for the new combat aircraft are expected to be submitted to the Canadian government by May 2019 for a decision in early 2020, and first deliveries from 2025.

In the interim, Canada will acquire between 18 and 25 former RAAF F/A-18A/B ‘classic’ Hornets from 2019 to bolster the RCAF’s CF-18 ranks until the replacement aircraft enters service.

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  • Mick C


    For one of the most successful Exporters of Fighters in the last 60 years, thousands of Mirages to dozens of Countries, Dassualt has had a hard time exporting the Rafale. The fact that they are actually more expensive then the F-35 probably doesn’t help.

  • TwinTiger


    You have to buy into the Dassault/French eco-system if you purchase the Rafale – systems, armaments, etc which has only got more restricted since the days of the Mirage. The fact the Rafale cannot meet the 5-eyes data protocol requirements appears to be the key reason they pulled out though.

  • PAUL


    Good comments Rafale is a very capable aircraft, and Gripen could be in the same boat regarding 5 eyes & is geared to use Saabs Erieye AEW system.

  • PAUL


    The F18 Hornet was originally chosen for its twin engine reliability for the Arctic over water flights. So would rule out F35 & GripenNG /F16V on that basis. That leaves the Twin engine fighters of which only Eurofighter & Super Hornet remain, which are not 5th Generation or fully stealthy. If modern engines are more reliable then seems that F35 would be the selection like other partner countries. The GripenNG/F16V have been labelled the poor mans stealth fighter.

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