Evaluation of Options to Sustain a Canadian Forces Fighter Capability: Terms of Reference

December 2012


These terms of reference will guide the work to thoroughly examine all available options to sustain a Canadian Forces fighter capability.

This approach, undertaken as part of the Seven-Point Plan, will differ from the review of options that was previously completed. The Statement of Operational Requirement prepared by the Royal Canadian Air Force will be set aside and not used as part of this new evaluation of options, and any effects on it will be assessed once the Government has had the opportunity to consider the options analysis work.

This evaluation of options will review and assess available fighter aircraft currently in production, or scheduled for production. The work will result in a detailed and comprehensive report with the best available information about each of the options. This work is being led by the Royal Canadian Air Force, informed by a broad range of subject matter experts drawn from across the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, supported by the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat, and informed by guidance from independent reviewers external to government.


On April 3rd, 2012 the Government of Canada announced its response to Chapter 2 of the 2012 Spring Report of the Auditor General of Canada addressing the replacement of Canada's Fighter Jets. The response included seven steps to fulfill and exceed the Auditor General's recommendation, including the Plan's fourth point "The Department of National Defence will continue to evaluate options to sustain a Canadian Forces fighter capability well into the 21st century".


The objective of the work is to perform a risk-based analysis of options to replace the CF-18, derived from a valid threat analysis, mission needs, and available fighter capabilities. This activity will result in a consolidated report including a summary matrix that captures the full analysis of the capabilities, costs and risks of each option.

This work will include an assessment of the current and future threats facing Canada, military needs, and fighter aircraft capabilities. Previously, these steps supported the development of a Statement of Operational Requirement and led to an options analysis to meet mandatory requirements. For this evaluation of options, we will conduct a market analysis of the fighter aircraft available, including estimates of their full life cycle costs, in order to assess their suitability for the roles and missions laid out in the Canada First Defence Strategy.

High-Level Work Plan

The Canada First Defence Strategy, which specifies three roles and six core missions for the Canadian Forces, is the Government of Canada policy foundation for the evaluation of options.

The evaluation will be made against each Canadian Forces core mission, resulting in a risk-based analysis of options for each of the six core missions. The high-level work plan for the activity comprises the following principal tasks:

  1. Threat Analysis. A comprehensive analysis of current and future domestic and international threats to Canadian interests will be conducted in order to determine capability deficiencies. This analysis will include an assessment of weapons systems threats, technological trends and the future security environment.
  2. Mission Needs. Based on Government policy and informed by the threat analysis, the contribution of fighter capability to fulfilling Canadian Forces mission needs will be established using existing military force development methodology. This work will emphasize the need for the Canadian Forces to be able to effectively meet the imperatives of Canadian sovereignty, including operating in the Arctic as well as with allies in view of our national, bi-national and international commitments such as NORAD and NATO.
  3. Fighter Capabilities. Necessary fighter capabilities will be identified based on mission needs and capability deficiencies using existing Canadian Forces aerospace doctrine. A comparison of fighter aircraft in production or scheduled to be in production will be conducted against the missions required to be fulfilled by the Canadian Forces. Measures of capability will include, for example, lethality, survivability, responsiveness and interoperability.
  4. CF-18 Estimated Life Expectancy Update. The CF-18 fleet estimated life expectancy will be updated, including an assessment of its capability to contribute to operations for timeframes beyond 2020, and the cost of necessary upgrades to maintain safe and effective operations.
  5. Market Analysis. The National Fighter Procurement Secretariat in close collaboration with the Department of National Defence will be seeking and obtaining capability and pricing information directly from industry in support of the market assessment of fighter aircraft that are currently in production or scheduled to be in production. The market assessment will be informed by the fighter capabilities identified at item c (above). The resulting analysis will also take into consideration information available to the government, as well as knowledge and experience gained by the Royal Canadian Air Force during coalition operations and exercises with allies.
  6. Mission Risk Assessment. The mission risk assessment will collate and synthesize all of the information and data into a framework that details potential courses of action. The results of the previous work plan tasks will be integrated by a separate team and these courses of action will be analysed in terms of how each can sustain necessary fighter capabilities as derived from the Canada First Defence Strategy, and the relative risk to mission success at various points of time into the 21st century.

Cost estimates for each option analysed will be developed to the extent possible while respecting commercial sensitivities, and informed by the independently developed Life Cycle Cost Framework that was commissioned by the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Industry Canada will contribute its assessment of the associated industry benefits based on the work being led by the Committee (see section entitled “The Committee”).


The work will culminate in a report that summarizes the key considerations that stem from the evaluation of options for each of the six core missions to sustain a Canadian Forces fighter capability, and that describes the detailed steps and results of the analyses performed. Assessments will be traceable to supporting evidence and references, and a matrix will be developed to summarize the results. The body of the report will remain unclassified and, while respecting applicable disclosure agreements with other governments and industry, will be guided by the Seven-Point Plan principles of openness and transparency. Classified information will be contained in annexes to the report that will not be made public.


The work will be completed as expeditiously as possible. The Assistant Deputy Minister Interdepartmental Steering Committee and the Deputy Minister Governance Committee will be briefed regularly. The final report(s) will be approved by the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence and be provided to the Deputy Minister Governance Committee to inform a decision by the Government on the way forward.

The Committee

Structure. A guiding committee is established to oversee the work plan and include senior military and civilian officials from the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence in order to will provide insight into the needs of the Royal Canadian Air Force, materiel acquisition, the integration of capabilities into the Canadian Forces, military intelligence, aircraft support and sustainment, operational research, and financial management.

The committee will consist of the following members and observers:


  • Director General, Air Force Development, National Defence
  • Director General, Major Project Delivery (Air), National Defence


  • Director General, Capability Structure Integration, Force Development, National Defence
  • Director General, Military Signals Intelligence, National Defence
  • Director General, Aerospace Equipment Program Management, National Defence
  • Director General, Centre for Operational Research and Analysis, National Defence
  • Director General, Financial Management, National Defence


  • Director General, Policy Coordination, National Defence Material Public Affairs Account Manager, National Defence
  • Senior Director, Procurement, National Fighter Procurement Secretariat
  • Director General, Defence and Major Projects Sector, Public Works and Government Services Canada
  • Military Advisor, Office of National Security Advisor, Privy Council Office
  • Director, F-35 Industrial Participation, Industry Canada
  • Chief, Defence and Crown Corporations, Department of Finance
  • Executive Director, International Affairs, Immigration and Defence, Treasury Board Secretariat

Independent Reviewers. Independent reviewers will assess the methodology used and the analyses performed, and will participate at key milestones in the work. The involvement of independent reviewers will ensure that the work performed is both rigorous and impartial, and that the results are comprehensive and understandable.

Responsibilities. Co-chairs and committee participants will:

  1. Develop and implement the work plan for the evaluation of options;
  2. Ensure that the resulting products are cohesively developed and integrated;
  3. Jointly prepare and provide briefings to senior leadership as required; and
  4. Ensure regular reporting and communication with the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat, specifically the Deputy Minister Governance Committee, through the Assistant Deputy Minister Interdepartmental Steering Committee.