Canada scraps plan to buy Boeing fighters amid trade dispute

Canada scraps plan to buy Boeing fighters amid trade dispute

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.

But - in what the sources said was a worst-case scenario - a government angry at Boeing and unconvinced by other US options may end up facing off against a Canadian air force that dislikes the idea of a European jet.

One defense expert noted that Britain, Germany and Italy intend to operate both the F-35 and the Eurofighter, evidence that Canada could buy the European jet and still operate with USA air force F-35s. Boeing alleged that Bombardier was selling the planes at "absurdly low" prices, and the Department of Commerce imposed a preliminary 300 percent import duty on Bombardier's CS 100 planes.

Canada began discussions in late August with the Australian government to assess the potential purchase of used F/A-18 fighter aircraft from that country.

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The U.S. Department of Defence said in September that the contract for the Super Hornets could be worth up to $6.4-billion. At the time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his top ministers said Ottawa would not do business with Boeing as long as it was engaged in a dispute with Bombardier.

The move comes in response to a 220 percent tariff placed the U.S. on Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier after Boeing accused the company of dumping airliners on the American market. RCAF now operates an ageing fleet of CF-18 fighters, which is due for replacement sometime in the next decade.

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. An official announcement is expected in the coming days.

Canada's decision to cancel the Super Hornet purchase, which is reported by several sources citing information from the Liberal Party in Ottawa, also heightens manufacturers' concerns about the ongoing review of NAFTA. "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". "It's not just the company but countries" that they're targeting, Bombardier chief executive officer Alain Bellemare said at an investors conference in Boston last month.

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