French firm Dassault pulls out of fighter jet competition: sources

France sending letter to federal procurement department saying Dassault will withdraw from bidding

November 8, 2018
The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press

OTTAWA—French fighter-jet maker Dassault is pulling out of the high-stakes competition to replace Canada’s CF-18s.

A Dassault Rafale plane. Image: Tim Felce

Multiple sources tell The Canadian Press that the French government is sending a letter to Canada’s federal procurement department notifying it that Dassault will withdraw from bidding.

Dassault makes the Rafale fighter jet, which was one of five designs expected to compete for the $19-billion contract to replace the CF-18s.

The surprise decision comes just over a week after the federal government published the military’s requirements for a new fighter jet and a draft process by which a winner is expected to be chosen.

Sources say Dassault’s decision is because France is not a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, which comprises Canada, the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Dassault’s withdrawal narrows the competition for the contract, which is to be awarded in the early 2020s, to U.S. aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing, British firm BAE and Swedish company Saab.