As a face-saving measure the instinctively dishonest Conservatives say they have 'reset' the programme to find a CF-18 replacement and, this time, there'll be a proper competition.
Don't hold your breath.
A real competition would have the rivals all flying in to Cold Lake for flight demonstrations and evaluations. That's how the United States chose the F-22 Raptor over the Boeing/General Dynamics contender, the F-23. Both were put in the air, tested extensively and then a winner chosen.
When the Trudeau government went fighter shopping all the rivals took their latest and greatest to Cold Lake. The F-14 Tomcat, the F-15 Eagle, the F-16 Falcon, the European Panavia Tornado and the F-18 Hornet. We ran'em all through the mill, crunched the numbers, and came out with the CF-18 that has served us so well all these many years. Good choice and we were able to negotiate a great deal on the price because we were the first foreign customer for the F-18.
The field isn't quite as big this time around, not really. There are upgraded variants of the F-15 Eagle, the F-16 Falcon and F-18 Hornet on the market but the new kids are the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale and the F-35, assuming we dismiss out of hand the latest Russian/Indian warplanes. But you can probably count the F-35 a no-show if Canada actually has a flight demonstration requirement. Why? Because I think the F-35 is at too much risk of coming out looking bad.
The F-35 gives up a great many things to achieve a limited and perishable stealth advantage. It gives up payload, fuel capacity, range, speed, climb and turn rate. It lacks twin-engine reliability and is one of the few warplanes today that doesn't have super-cruise capability (go fast without afterburner). The RAND Corporation concluded the F-35 can't out turn, out climb or out run even current generation Russian fighters. So why would Lockheed want to put the F-35 up, head to head, with the Typhoon or Rafale?
Our Defence Fibber-in-Chief, Peter MacKay was fond of claiming the F-35 was chosen from a competition. He was referring to an evaluation conducted by the Japanese only they didn't have an F-35 in the air either. They had to go by information they received from Lockheed and that's probably all Canada is likely to get too. And besides, the F-35 is barely halfway through its own testing programme. It's still something of a Beta airplane.