Canada is on the verge of purchasing a fleet of used F-18 jets from Australia, Reuters is reporting.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan would not confirm the reported deal with the Australians while speaking to CBC News, but the public broadcaster reports Ottawa had expressed interest in “the purchase of surplus F-18” warplanes, citing an April letter from Australia’s military sales office.
If true, the decision would axe a plan to purchase 18 Super Hornets from Boeing. The U.S. aerospace company is currently embroiled in a bitter dispute with the Canadian government over Bombardier. Boeing has launched a trade challenge against the Montreal-based company.
CBC News reports the proposed deal with Boeing was worth $6.3 billion. The 18 jets would’ve been used as a stopgap measure to replace the aging CF-18s until a permanent fleet could be found.
With the reported Canada-Australia deal, the Liberals would be buying the same planes it currently operates — the Classic Hornets. Australia bought 75 of these planes from 1984 to 1990 and 71 remain in their fleet, according to Engineers Australia.
Canada is looking to fill what Sajjan calls a “capability gap,” and a competition to fully replace its current fleet could take five years, as reported by CBC News. Last year, Sajjan told CBC Radio’s As It Happens that Canada could be flying CF-18s for the next 15 years, if necessary.
It’s reasonable to assume the used jets from Australia wouldn’t last as long as new Super Hornets, but the move could send a strong message to Boeing. In September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada “won’t do business with a company that’s busy trying to sue us and trying to put our aerospace workers out of business,” according to CBC News.
It’s also worth noting that any deal between Canada and Australia over the sale of Classic Hornets must be approved by the U.S. State Department, since they were the original exporter of the jets, CBC reports.
What do you think of the reported move by the Canadian government to ditch the deal with Boeing in favour of an agreement with Australia? Are used Classic Hornets the right purchase for a stopgap measure? Or would the purchase of new jets make more sense for Canada in the long run? Have your say by voting in the quiz above.