Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, bonjour
. My name is Kory Mathews and I am the F-18 programs vice-president for Boeing Defense, Space and Security.
On behalf of the Boeing Company, I want to thank you for inviting us to speak with you today regarding Canada's next-generation fighter and Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet.
Before I get started, let me introduce two colleagues here with me today. First is Mr. Pete Peterson and second is Mr. Ricardo Traven. Pete runs the Boeing office here in Ottawa, overseeing operations for Boeing Defense, Space and Security in Canada. Ricardo is a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, a former Canadian Air Force CF-18 pilot, and now the chief test pilot at Boeing for the Super Hornet program.
A new fighter acquisition is a huge undertaking for any nation, and Boeing recognizes the immense importance of this acquisition to Canada, both from the perspective of the defensive capability it will bring to the Canadian Forces as well as the significant government investment this acquisition will require. That is why we believe the Super Hornet, with its proven capabilities, low risk and known acquisition price, affordable life-cycle costs and guaranteed delivery schedule would be an outstanding addition to the Canadian Air Force inventory.
Debuting just four years ago, in 2006, the Block II Super Hornet incorporates the latest defence technology advancements, including an integrated display of fused data from a new wide array of sensors, making it the newest combat fighter attack aircraft in operational service today with the United States forces.
Of the multitude of the Super Homet's advanced capabilities, one that does not get the attention it deserves is its stealth characteristics. Although some preliminary discussions between Canadian Air Force and United States Navy officials took place in 2008 and early 2009, to our knowledge Canadian officials have not yet received the full complement of Super Hornet performance data from the United States Navy, including those about the aircraft's stealth characteristics.
While security constraints preclude us from having even the most general discussion of this matter in this forum, I can assure you that the Canadian experts will find these briefings most informative and enlightening. I would respectfully suggest that you request this data from the United States Navy, if only to ensure that you make a fully informed decision as part of any next-generation fighter selection process.
In addition to the advanced capability the Super Hornet offers, it is recognized by industry and the United States government as a model defence acquisition program. To date, more than 440 Super Hornets have been delivered to the United States Navy and most recently the Royal Australian Air Force, with each and every aircraft delivered on or ahead of schedule and on or under budget.
As you may be aware, at the end of September Boeing signed a third multi-year procurement contract with the United States Navy to provide 124 new Super Hornet aircraft at a reduced cost, generating approximately $600 million in savings to United States taxpayers. We have every expectation that future international customers, such as Canada, would also be able to leverage the reduced cost offered in this contract, just as the Australian government did during its Super Homet acquisition.
For more than 80 years, Boeing has demonstrated our commitment to both Canadian industry as well as its highly skilled workforce, generating approximately $1 billion in business in Canada annually. Today this great country is home to one of Boeing's largest international supplier bases, including more than 200 major partners spanning every region of Canada. A Super Homet acquisition would enable even more opportunities for Canadian workers through Boeing's diverse portfolio of defence, commercial, and space products, something our competitors simply cannot offer. And Boeing would comply with the current industrial and regional benefits policy and commit to matching dollar for dollar the full contract value with guaranteed Canadian content work.
Based on our understanding of your defence needs, including our review of the document on high-level mandatory capabilities for Canada's next-generation fighter and the Canada First defence strategy, I have every reason to believe that the Super Homet would be ideally suited to meet your mission requirements.
I'm not here today to take up your valuable time offering unproven claims or future projections of cost and/or capability. The Boeing Company can today offer you fact-based, proven information on the Super Hornet so that you are able to make a fully informed decision.
Should you need additional information or technical briefings, the Boeing Company and the F-18 program stand at the ready. As I previously stated, I would respectfully recommend that you engage the United States government to obtain the full complement of performance data on this weapons system. I also invite the Canadian Air Force, should there be a desire, to conduct a flight and maintenance evaluation of the Super Hornet to better understand the full capabilities of this outstanding multi-role fighter.
And lastly, to this committee, I want to extend an invitation to visit our program offices and production facilities in St. Louis.
Once again, merci beaucoup for the opportunity to speak with you today, and I look forward to your questions.
Yes, sir, and let me expand upon that, if I could.
The Super Hornet today operates in an interoperable manner. It's important to note that the navy's current plans have the F-18-E/F Super Hornet and the other variant, the EA-18G, operating side by side off of carrier decks out to 2035 or 2040, with the F-35 in a complementary role to the Super Hornet.
If you see where we are today, with the interoperability that we have and the data links that provides, we currently use Link 16, for example, along with other data links, providing full exchange of information—the ability to exchange targeting information, the ability to exchange imagery and up to and including full-motion video. As we would look forward in any future force construct, I'm absolutely confident that we would be able to operate in that continued interoperability manner. If that requires new data links, that's how the Super Hornet was designed. It was designed with growth in mind. The United States Navy has a flight plan that adds capabilities over the upcoming decades, and on that flight plan are those advanced data links to ensure future interoperability.
Thank you, Mr. Matthews. I've only a couple of minutes left.
My colleagues will obviously have further questions, but there's one other issue that is of interest to me. The Department of National Defence has stated before this committee, and in other contexts that I've seen, that they've conducted a number of simulations, done internal studies, they've compared various airplanes as against their requirements--or their high-level capabilities, in the only document that we've seen--their internal requirements. And you said something interesting in your opening comments: you don't believe that in fact the Government of Canada has requested from the American government the detailed technical requirements, for example, around the stealth features of the airplane you're offering.
So am I to conclude that in your view they haven't been able to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges, and in fact they may not have had enough information to make a valid comparison?
Thank you, Mister Chair.
Good afternoon Mister Mathews.
I'll start off in English by saying I was very sorry when I was in St. Louis to have crashed a B-2 from your company. It was worth $2 billion up in smoke, I'm afraid. But it was in a CAE-Link simulator, so I saved my life.
Mister Mathews, the Government continues to contend that requirements disqualify your aircraft because it is not fifth generation and does not possess stealth characteristics.
What exactly is a fifth generation aircraft? Do you consider the Super Hornet to be a fifth generation aircraft? Does it have stealth capability?
When it comes to simulation, what I would like to do first is make sure there is clarity on terminology, if I could. We typically view, as an industry member, two types of simulations. First, there is what we would refer to as our flight simulator. That's where we bring aircrew in so that they can understand the handling qualities of the airplane, put it into different scenarios, and establish a look-and-feel for that weapon system. Secondly, though, there is another category of what are often termed simulations. Our terminology would be more along the lines of operational analysis, constructive analysis, using a variety of tools, where you get probably a better feel for comparative analysis. Certainly we have the capability for both.
Back in 2008 several members from the Canadian Air Force had the opportunity to come down and spend two days in that first flight simulator--again, to get a look-and-feel for this weapon system.
I'm not able, today, to get into any specific discussions on specific simulations and/or comparative analysis. As a matter of fact, I would likely submit that it would be inappropriate for me to do so, not understanding the detailed level of requirements required of the next-generation fighter. We would have the ability to do that, should it be requested, but at this point in time, other than that initial flight simulation, we have not engaged in any discussion on those more detailed comparative analyses, sir.
Thank you, Mr. Mathews, for your presentation.
I was interested in this notion of fifth generation as well. It seems to be a label that's put on only a couple of airplanes. In fact the decision-making seems to be around the fact that the F-35 is the only fifth-generation aircraft available to Canada, and therefore we need it.
I'm looking at the capabilities as well, the high-level mandatory capabilities, and I think you have affirmed that your company can meet any of those in terms of range, speed, and the capability to deal with NORAD and NATO configurations. Is there any difference between the F-35 and Hornet in terms of the purpose for which this plane is built? Someone has suggested that the F-35 is a particular type of niche aircraft to go in and do ground damage after the sort of first day strike. On the other hand, our air force people have told us that this is a multi-use jet. What is the difference between a Hornet and an F-35? And I'm assuming you know the capabilities of the F-35 very well, being a competitor.
Sir, I would not say that. It would be inappropriate for me to do so.
What I can offer up to you today again, sir, is that any specific assessments that have gone on for this fighter, the next-generation fighter, have been void of the full complement of information.
Should there be a competition—and again, that is not our decision, nor are we here to advocate for it—we would look forward to and be honoured to submit this weapon system in that competition, as it is our understanding that, with its top-level listing of high-level mandatory capabilities, it would be ideally suited for that, sir.
Thank you, Mister Chair.
Mister Mathews, We are particularly concerned by the fighter's price tag. I mean the actual purchase price and the cost of maintaining the aircraft operational over a period of 20 years.
You talked to Mr. Hawn about specific aircraft requirements, such as rockets, missiles, etc. If the Government of Canada were to supply your company with a comprehensive list of requirements, which apparently you have not yet received ... Well, let us imagine for a moment that the Government of Canada were to provide your company with detailed technical specifications, including, as you have said, information on the various systems and missions.
Would you be in a position to provide the Government a fixed price? Were you to have all the necessary data, could you offer a fixed price? Would you be able to specify the price of the aircraft? Would you be able to provide a fixed price for the aircraft operational maintenance program? Could you provide this information to the Canadian taxpayer if you had all the necessary specifications in hand?
Thank you very much, Mr. Mathews.
We'll have to give the floor to another Conservative member.
Mr. Hawn, you still have two minutes, if you want to take it, or Mr. Braid. That's the last member.
Mr. Braid, three minutes.
Thank you Mister Chair, distinguished Committee members.
I would first like to thank you for your invitation to appear before you here today and for the opportunity to introduce our company and the Rafale fighter aircraft. It is both a privilege and an honour.
I'd like to first say a couple of words about our company. We are a rather peculiar company in the European aerospace scene, as we are probably the only aerospace manufacturer in the world still belonging to the founding family of the company. Our company was founded by the late Marcel Dassault. It's still owned in majority by Mr. Serge Dassault and his family.
Last year we had a turnover of about 3.5 billion euros. And 70% of our turnover comes from our civilian activities, as we share the privilege of being a world leader in the field of business jets with a Canadian company, Bombardier, and an American company, Gulfstream Aerospace.
We also have the peculiarity of having extensive experience in the field of combat aircraft development. In the last 60 years, about 7,500 aircraft have been delivered to 70 countries by Dassault--not only combat aircraft but also business jets, as well. And they have logged a total of 20 million flight hours.
Our experience is rather unique in Europe, where we are positioning ourselves as the main contractor in the field of combat aircraft and complex systems integrations. Our products, first of all the business jets.... We have delivered more than 2,000 business jets of the Falcon family. Even if we are competitors to the Canadian aerospace industry, as Bombardier is also producing a lot of business jets, we are also a partner of the Canadian aerospace industry, since Pratt & Whitney Canada is providing the engines for several of our business jets, among others, our latest, the Falcon 7X, which is a bestseller in its category.
Another program we are currently working on is the nEUROn program. The nEUROn program is a European cooperation program aimed at developing a technology demonstrator in the field of unmanned combat aircraft. And here we are touching on a topic you have already addressed during this meeting, which is stealthiness. Obviously, one of the UCAV's characteristics will be a very high degree of stealthiness. And its aim is to develop several technologies that the European aerospace industry will need in the next 35 or 40 years in order to develop a further generation of combat aircraft in the future.
And last but not least, our main program in the military field is the Rafale omni-role fighter. I shall spare you all the figures and technicalities of the aircraft. I'm at your disposal to answer your questions. Let me just quickly talk about the founding principles of the Rafale combat aircraft.
The first of the basic principles is the omnirole concept. It stems from the challenges faced by the French defence forces, which in 1995, operated a fleet of approximately 697 aircraft. The White paper on French Defence and National Security has set a goal of a single pool of 300 fighters in 2025. As a result, the Navy and the Air Force will be replacing seven different aircraft with one fighter.
The new aircraft had to be capable of performing aerial defence missions, deep strikes, close support, anti-shipping strikes and tactical and strategic reconnaissance. In addition, France specifically required nuclear strike capability as part of the French nuclear deterrent force.
The initiative currently provides for 284 Rafales to be built. The French Government has placed firm orders for 180. Approximately 90 have already been delivered. They entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and the Air Force in 2006.
The aircraft's second basic principle, which you have already discussed, is interoperability. The aircraft was designed to plug seamlessly into multi-national operations and to provide total interoperability with the hardware of North American and European NATO allies.
The interoperability capability is no longer just a principle but a tangible reality. It has shown its worth several times. The Rafale has been engaged in three combat missions in Afghanistan, where it demonstrated its interoperability in providing support for coalition troops. This same capability has also been tested in three operations aboard various U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. Rafales were deployed on the Enterprise and the Harry S. Truman, and then in June this year, on the Theodore Roosevelt. Four Rafales were embedded in a carrier-based F-18E Super Hornet unit for a week.
The aircraft's interoperability capacity was again documented just a few days ago by the signature of a co-operation agreement between France and the United Kingdom. Under this deal, British F-35s will in the future operate along side Rafales on the British and French aircraft carriers Prince of Wales and Charles de Gaulle.
The final basic design principle of the Rafale is the strong growth potential offered by the open architecture of its systems. The Rafale is required to be in operation with the French armed forces for between 30 and 40 years. As as result, it is essential that it have the capacity to adapt to evolving threats but also to advances in technology and weapons systems. The aircraft's open architecture allows for upgrading to successive standards.
I think I shall stop there for now. It would be a pleasure to answer any questions you may have.
Our company has a very long tradition of industrial cooperation with its customers. It is part of our corporate DNA. There are numerous examples of industrial cooperation with countries such as Greece, Belgium, Spain, the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan, which have purchased Mirage 2000, Mirage F1 and Mirage 5 fighters from Dassault.
On each occasion, we have shown our ability to adapt to the industrial cooperation needs of the client. Clients express their needs and it is our responsibility to provide a satisfactory response where possible.
Very often our response and proposals on industrial cooperation are governed by an extremely important principle in the area of technology transfer. In cases where the French Government decides to sell a fighter to a friendly nation, we do not restrict the transfer of technology. This is especially important today given the huge number of electronic components in fighter navigation and attack systems. It is also vital given the need for countries with the necessary capacity to be able to tailor weapons systems to their own requirements and to support the operational life and upgrading of the aircraft over a 30 to 40-year period. As a rule of thumb, it is essential, in cases like these, to provide client nations with software engineering workshops. These are designed to deliver the tools customers will need to maintain and customize the aircraft to their Air Forces' current and future requirements.
Frankly, sir, no. We consider this discussion about the generations as a pure marketing tool. Ever since the end of World War II, the philosophy of our company has been to develop successive prototypes and improve them with the improvements in technology. Our experience comes from the development and the building of more than 100 prototypes since 1946. Each time, we have built step by step on progressive improvements from one aircraft to the other.
Regarding the Rafale, I explained to you that one of the founding principles of the Rafale design is a very open, very high-growth potential thanks to an open architecture. That means what? That means that Rafale entered service in 2004 with the French navy. Today, we are in 2010. We have already seen three different improved standards within the Rafale system: F-1, which was purely air-to-air; F-2, which was air-to-air and air-to-ground; F-3, which is an improvement on F-2 with the added capabilities in anti-shipping missiles, reconnaissance, nuclear strike, and so on.
Rafale is not a frozen aircraft. Rafale has an evolutionary concept in its systems that allows it to keep pace with the development of the technologies, and there will be successive standards and improvements throughout the 30 years of the operational life of Rafale.
Now, how does a generation fit into this concept? Is F-3 going to be 4.87 generation; and F-4, tomorrow I shall wake up and say that today I'm going to be 5.3 generation? No, not really. The philosophy for the development of Rafale is completely different and is out of this generation debate.