Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet. Source: Boeing.
Canada will order 18 Super Hornet fighters to replace its aging F-18 fleet, and is bidding to modernize its combat fleet.
"Canada will immediately explore the acquisition of 18 new Super Hornet aircraft to supplement the CF-18s until the permanent replacement arrives," the Canadian government announced in a release. "Canada's current fleet is now more than 30 years old and is down from 138 aircraft to 77. As a result, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) faces a capability gap."
Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Canada will launch a larger fighter competition next year after it wraps up its defense policy review. But the competition will likely take about five years, which kicks the decision into the next administration. Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had vowed not to buy the F-35 joint strike fighter.
"We have a capability gap. We have selected the minimum number of aircraft to meet this capability gap here. At the same time, we are launching a full competition and making sure that we take the appropriate time, without cutting corners to get the right airplane," Sajjan said.
Judy Foote, the country’s minister of public services and procurement, said it would start talking with Boeing “immediately” so that the country could amass an interim fleet as quickly as possible in order to meet its commitments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Boeing was elated by the news, a major win for the company that could help extend the life of one of its fourth-generation fighter jets. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin was less pleased with the decision, restating its hope that the Canadian government would ultimately purchase the fighter.
Canada has been involved in the Joint Striker Fighter program for the F-35s since its inception in 1997. It had announced plans to acquire 65 aircraft in 2010, before stepping back a year ago due to exorbitant costs, and the campaign promise of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Source: BBC, Defence News
Written by Patricia Ruiz
Patricia Ruiz is Environmental and Forestry Engineer and a Supply Chain Management Expert