The Canadian government announced that the country will explore the purchase of 18 F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets from Boeing in a bid to supplement the existing CF-18 fighter jets in its inventory.
The government backed up its purchase decision by saying that Canada’s 77 remaining (down from 138) CF-18 fighter jets are over 30 years old.
Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan stated that Canada will launch a larger fighter competition next year, after it concludes its defense policy. But the competition will likely take about five years, which kicks the decision into the next administration.
Sajjan added that the 18 jets that are going to be purchased now are based on meeting the capability gap in the current circumstance.
Canada is an international partner in the F-35 joint strike fighter program, and its decision to procure F/A-18 Super Hornets now is a blow to Lockheed Martin’s F-35.
Boeing was quick to welcome Canada’s decision with a statement that said:
“Boeing is honored to provide the Royal Canadian Air Force with the only multi-role fighter aircraft that can fulfill its immediate needs for sovereign and North American defense,” the company stated in a news release. “The Super Hornet’s advanced operational capabilities, low acquisition and sustainment costs, and Boeing’s continued investment in the Canadian aerospace industry — US$6 billion over the past five years alone — make the Super Hornet the perfect complement to Canada’s current and future fighter fleet.”
Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin was less pleased:
“Lockheed Martin recognizes the recent announcement by the Government of Canada of its intent to procure the 4th generation F/A-18 Super Hornet as an interim fighter capability,” the company said in a statement. “Although disappointed with this decision, we remain confident the F-35 is the best solution to meet Canada’s operational requirements at the most affordable price, and the F-35 has proven in all competitions to be lower in cost than 4th generation competitors. The F-35 is combat ready and available today to meet Canada’s needs for the next 40 years.”