The Canadian Government has issued a formal request for proposals (RFP) for the procurement of a new fleet of 88 future fighter aircraft.

In a release, the government has named four companies Saab, and consortiums headed by Airbus Defense and Space, Lockheed Martin and Boeing as eligible suppliers.

These companies have to submit initial proposals by mid-2020. The contract is expected to be awarded to the winning bidder in 2022 following evaluation of the proposals.

The RFP comes after engagement with industry and eligible vendors for the project over the past 18 months.

The government will provide two chances for these suppliers to submit their proposals. The bidders can make a security offer later this year and then resubmit their revised proposals incorporating the government feedback.

While evaluating the bids, the government will give 60% weightage to technical merit and 20% each to cost and economic benefits.

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Canada National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said: “The procurement of a fleet of 88 future fighter aircraft is an essential step forward that our government committed to in Strong, Secure, Engaged.

“This investment will mean that the Royal Canadian Air Force has what it needs to protect Canadians. It is essential that we get the right equipment that will serve our women and men in uniform for decades to come.”

The government expects the delivery of the first aircraft under this project as early as 2025.

The Royal Canadian Air Force will continue to operate the existing CF-18s until the new fighter jet fleet achieves full operational capability.

Canada reached a deal in November last year to procure 18 used F/A-18 Hornet aircraft from Australia to address a shortage.

Earlier this year, the country received the first two F/A-18s at Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake in Alberta.