In a dogfight of defence contractors, the hunter can quickly become the hunted. It's happening now to the F-35.
The world's largest defence contractor, Lockheed Martin, is trying to convince wavering U.S. allies — including Canada — to stick with its high-tech, high-priced and unproven F-35 stealth fighter. But the F-35 is way behind schedule, way over budget and, now, it's grounded by a mysterious crack in a turbine fan.
After years of technical problems, it's a tempting target for Lockheed Martin's rivals.
It's no surprise, then, that the No. 2 defence contractor, Boeing, smells blood.
With Ottawa now reviewing its previous commitment to buy the F-35, Boeing is making an aggressive pitch to Canadian taxpayers, offering to save them billions of dollars if they buy Boeing's Super Hornets instead.
Boeing isn't pulling its punches. The Super Hornet, it says, is a proven fighter while the F-35 is just a concept — and an expensive one at that.We call it competing with a paper airplane," says Ricardo Traven, Boeing's chief test pilot for the Super Hornet. A Canadian who flew fighters for 15 years in the Canadian air force, Traven dismisses the F-35 as a "shiny brochure of promises," and contrasts it with "the real thing," which looms behind him in a top-secret hangar at Boeing's vast production line in St. Louis, Missouri.