In mid-March, as the Eurofighter Typhoon prepared to mark the 20th anniversary of its maiden flight, executives from the European consortium were in Ottawa to remind the government that although the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter might look good on paper and in testing, they have an operations-proven option that can meet Canada’s varied needs.

The Eurofighter of today is vastly improved from the airplane that first took flight in 1994 and the three companies that serve as the prime contractors – BAE Systems, Airbus Group and Alenia Aermacchi – have unveiled a Typhoon 2020 concept that is intended to ensure future evolution.

To date, the twin-engine, multi-mission Typhoon has accumulated more than 225,000 flying hours in exercises and operations, including Libya. The consortium believes that capability makes it an ideal solution for Canada’s fighter replacement program.

Like Boeing and Dassualt, the two other likely bidders to replace Canada’s CF-18s, Eurofighter is becoming more vocal in its call for the government to hold an open competition. (It will have a presence at CANSEC 2014 in May.)

Company officials said they believe the landscape has shifted in Canada since the government reset the fighter replacement program in 2012 and laid out a seven-point plan to explore all options.

Not only do they believe the Typhoon can compete with the F-35 in terms of capability for Canada’s multi-mission needs, they said they have a “powerful argument to bring to the table” regarding opportunities for Canadian industry in a global supply chain that goes well beyond defence and could include export opportunities in commercial aerospace, cyber, security, border control and space.

BAE, Airbus and Alenia already have a sizeable footprint in Canada, representing some 4,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in sales, they added.

Moreover, Canada would become an equal partner in the Eurofighter program, deriving the benefits of a “proven track record, proven costs, and proven support costs.” A 20th anniversary might mean age to some, but for Eurofighter it means knowledge and invaluable experience they hope Canada can appreciate.