CF-39 Arrow II: A Swedish Solution to the CF-18 Replacement Problem

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau ordered 138 CF-18 fighter jets in 1980. As of September 2018, 76 modernized CF-18s remain in service. Over the past two decades, four different Prime Ministers have been involved in selecting a replacement for the CF-18. With a purchase price of over $16 billion and a potential total lifetime cost of over $40 billion, the CF-18 replacement will be the second most expensive military procurement in Canadian history. Not only will the CF-18 replacement program have to fight for funding against the general austerity and easy riding nature of Canadians, but it will also be running concurrently with the largest military procurement in Canadian history: The National Shipbuilding Strategy. This paper reviews the history of Canadian military procurement, with emphasis on the successful New Fighter Aircraft (NFA) program of the 1970s that selected the CF-18, and how those lessons should be applied to the CF-18 replacement. This paper argues that, absent the political will to provide considerably more than 1.15% of GDP in defence spending, the Canadian Forces can no longer afford to be a modern multipurpose force and should instead move to a Navy centric force structure. By reviewing how the CF-18 serves at home on the NORAD mission, in Europe on NATO air policing missions, and as part of coalition combat missions; the minimum requirements for the CF-18 replacement are identified. This paper recommends employing the NFA methodology to design a defence policy for easy riders. Such a defence policy will meet military objectives with best value, state-of-the-art technology that also offers full industrial offsets for Canadian industry. The best value solution to the CF-18 replacement is the least expensive jet in the competition: the Saab Gripen.
McColl, A. (2018). CF-39 Arrow II: A Swedish Solution to the CF-18 Replacement Problem (Unpublished master's project). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.