Boeing, Bombardier protesting L3 deal
By The Ottawa Citizen
In a new twist on their aerospace rivalry, Bombardier has joined Boeing to protest the awarding of a U.S. military aircraft contract to another company.
By The Ottawa Citizen
The challenge comes as Bombardier finds itself the target of a Boeing complaint over the Quebec firm’s sales of commercial aircraft in the U.S.
Boeing has accused Bombardier of receiving Canadian government subsidies that allowed it to sell its C Series passenger planes at cut-rate prices. That, in turn, set in motion the Liberal government’s feud with Boeing over the purchase of Super Hornet fighter jets for the Canadian military.
The new complaints by Boeing and Bombardier are focused on the U.S. Air Force plan to field a new electronic warfare aircraft. The air force selected L3 Technologies to integrate existing electronic warfare and mission systems on one type of aircraft on to a new plane.
Under the U.S. air force deal, L3 would also select that plane, a move that prompted the complaints by Boeing and Bombardier.
Both companies are concerned about the potential for conflict of interest as L3 has partnered in the past with aircraft manufacturer Gulfstream and could be inclined to select one of that firm’s planes.
The U.S. Air Force leadership is standing by its decision to pick L3 to do both the integration of the equipment and the selection of the plane. “Boeing has announced their protest, and Bombardier has filed a protest as well,” Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch told journalists. “They are both in protest now, and we still remain committed, we believe we’ve got the right acquisition strategy, we remain committed to the strategy we’ve got, and we’re going to go to try to execute that strategy.”
Both Boeing and Bombardier filed their complaints with the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Bombardier has promoted some of its aircraft, such as its Global 6000, as being ideal for carrying out special missions such as electronic warfare operations.
Stéphane Villeneuve, Bombardier’s vice president of specialized aircraft, released a statement to media outlets Thursday noting that the firm deserves a chance to compete on the U.S. contract.
The Government Accountability Office has 90 days to make a decision on the complaints.
Bombardier and Boeing are embroiled in their own dispute. Boeing convinced the U.S. Commerce Department and International Trade Commission to launch an investigation into Bombardier and allegations of government subsidies.
Last week Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan requested Boeing drop its complaint but the firm declined.
That has led to a stand-off on the Liberal government’s proposed purchase of 18 Super Hornet fighter jets to fill a gap the Royal Canadian Air Force faces in its capabilities.
The United States International Trade Commission voted to continue its investigation into Bombardier Inc.’s trade practices on Friday, a decision that was expected, but may stall Bombardier’s efforts to sell its CSeries jets in the U.S. market, Alicja Siekierska of the Financial Post reported.
Sajjan suggested Boeing is no longer a trusted Canadian partner. As a result of the trade complaint, Canada is reviewing its military procurements with Boeing and is no longer meeting company officials on the Super Hornet purchase.
Sajjan, however, says the federal government is still in discussions with the Pentagon over the acquisition of the aircraft. It is still unclear when the deal might proceed, or if it will be ultimately scuttled if Boeing does not withdraw its complaint against Bombardier.