The Canadian government is contemplating buying used F/A-18 Hornets from Australia instead of procuring new Super Hornet planes directly from Boeing, a move that would be a major blow to the company's fresh new aircraft line, Defense News reports.
Since the Australian fighter jets are nearly as old as the current Canadian fleet, RCAF will reportedly need to buy some additional planes to use them for spare parts.
The Liberal government had wanted to buy 18 Super Hornet fighter jets but that plan was derailed when the jet's manufacturer, Boeing, filed the trade complaint in April against Bombardier of Quebec over its civilian passenger jets.
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In late September, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan acknowledged that Canada was focused on purchasing surplus Australian F-18s for interim aircraft.
The Australian planes come with another built-in advantage, said defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute: Canada has long since learned how to keep them in service.
"If Canada kicks Boeing out, I think that will be deeply unfortunate for us both". "It has to be a two-way street, there has to be this mutually beneficial relationship for it to be one that grows, one that both sides are happy and excited about".
Australian military officials had been in the Canadian capitol of Ottawa in late November for talks, two of the sources said.
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In response, the Commerce Department in September imposed a almost 220-percent preliminary tariff on the C-series, but a final decision is not until 2018. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the time the country would not engage in business with Boeing till such time its dispute with Bombardier continued, a sentiment he repeated to President Donald Trump in October.
In buying older Australian Super Hornets, Canada would be buying a cheaper aircraft, not need to retrain its pilots, nor spend money on a new supply chain, one source said. That legal process continues with final rulings expected by the U.S. International Trade Commission early next year.
However, Boeing Defense President and CEO Leanne Caret's reaction might offer observers a hint.
News of the development comes as Mr. Trump once again has taken the occasion to complain about trade deficits with the U.S.'s neighbors. It has been the standard line in Ottawa for months that Boeing, having failed to act as a trusted or valued partner, has effectively been shut out of any new federal contracts.
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