Canada plans $1.5 Billion of corporate welfare for fighter jet training

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Help wanted: Top guns for dogfights with Canada’s CF-18 fighter pilots

David Pugliese
Ottawa Citizen: March 11, 2016

Canada’s top guns are in need of some top guns to fight against.

And they’ll get such adversaries by the end of the year.

The Canadian government plans to award by December a contract, estimated to be worth as much as $1.5 billion, to a fleet of fighter jets to go toe-to-toe with the military’s CF-18s.

A private company will be selected to act as the training partner for Canada’s fighter pilots, as well as provide other aircraft to act as the enemy for the Canadian army and navy.

The project, known as the Contracted Airborne Training Services or CATS, will run over an initial 10-year period, followed by the option to continue for another five years.

The Canadian-based Discovery Air Defence has been providing such services for the Canadian military since 2005. It has also expanded its operations internationally and was recently hired to do the same thing for Germany’s armed forces.

But the Canadian government wants to open the competition up potentially to other firms. Pierre-Alain Bujold, a spokesman for Public Services and Procurement Canada, said the bids for CATS went in Feb. 16. “The evaluation, which includes aircraft inspection, is expected to take up to five months,” he explained. “The contract is expected to be awarded by the end of 2016.”

Two firms have publicly acknowledged they have submitted bids: Discovery Air Defence of Montreal, and CAE, also from Quebec, which has allied itself with Draken, a U.S. firm.

Garry Venman, vice-president of business development and government relations at Discovery Air Defence, said the company pioneered the concept in Canada of such airborne services and is now considered an industry leader throughout the world.

“We’ve flown more than 55,000 hours in support of the Canadian and German militaries,” he said. “We’ve got the experience of doing it for the last 11 years.”

Discovery Air Defence traces its lineage to 2001, when it was founded by three former CF-18 pilots.

The firm has what is considered the world’s largest fleet of operational fighter jets in private hands. The company is now looking to acquire U.S.-built F-16 fighters for more advanced training.

“We’re poised for significant growth,” Venman said. “We’re doing all the things the Canadian government says it wants Canadian companies to do — creating jobs and conducting business internationally.”

(read the full article at The Province)

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