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Canada opts out of Super Hornet buy

12 December 2017
Canada will not be pursuing the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to replace its F/A-18 (CF-18/CF-188) Hornet fleet, seen here on exercise in Romania. Source: NATO/Caporal Jean-Roch Chabot

Boeing will not be selling a planned 18 US-made F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters to Canada, the manufacturer announced on 8 December, signalling a significant casualty in the ongoing dispute between the respective governments and their flagship aerospace industries.

Rather than purchase the new-build Super Hornets – a sale for which was authorised in September – Ottawa has opted to acquire second-hand F/A-18C/D variants from the Royal Australian Air Force.

While continued operation its aircraft is by no means negative for Boeing, it comes at a time when the governments of Canada and the United States are involved in a dispute regarding their respective Bombardier and Boeing industries over the commercial aircraft sales.

Bombardier is the subject of a US trade investigation, stemming from Boeing’s claim that a 2016 sale of the former’s C-series airliner to US airline Delta was unfairly subsidised by the Quebec regional government, making it anti-competitive because it was being offered at a lower price.

The Canadian government has stood behind its flagship aerospace manufacturer – as has the British government that relies on Bombardier manufacturing elements of the aircraft in Northern Ireland – and it has been well publicised that the investigation might have negative consequences for future defence deals, including the Super Hornet sale.

Nevertheless, Boeing has stood behind its claims, and was gracious in response to the recent news, “The Boeing Company respects the Canadian government’s decision and applauds the government’s continued use of a two-engine fighter solution, which is a critical part of their northern Arctic border defence, NORAD co-operation, and coast-to-coast security,” a Boeing statement issued in response to the decision to acquire older Hornets said.

“Although we will not have the opportunity to grow our supply base, industrial partnerships and jobs in Canada the way we would if Canada purchased new Super Hornets, we will continue to look to find productive ways to work together in the future.”

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