Monday, June 18, 2018

RCAF Ups Used-Aussie F-18 Purchase to 25

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Canada has boosted the number of used Australian fighter jets it is purchasing to 25 but the deal to acquire those aircraft still hinges on approval from the U.S. government.

A Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188 Hornet departs Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California to conduct a mission as part of Exercise PUMA STRIKE 16-B on November 16, 2016. Photo: Cpl Manuela Berger, 4 Wing Imaging CK01-2016-1124-014
The Liberal government originally announced it would buy 18 used Australian F-18 jets to augment the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18s until new aircraft can be purchased in the coming years.

But it has added seven more used Australian F-18 aircraft to the deal, the Department of National Defence has confirmed.

Those extra aircraft will be stripped down for parts, Dan Blouin, a spokesman for the DND, said Friday.

It is not known yet if the seven aircraft will be flown to Canada or shipped, he added.

The exact cost of purchasing the 25 aircraft, along with weapons and other equipment is not yet known as negotiations are still underway on the deal, Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough recently told journalists. The Liberal government has set aside up to $500 million for the project.

An Australian Senate hearing was recently told that Canada was presented with a cost proposal from the Australian government last year. “They accepted our offer in December, but they have also put in a further request for some seven aircraft for system testing, training and spares,” Australian Air Vice Marshal Cath Roberts told the hearing.

The U.S. government is examining the deal and will have to give its approval to Australia before that country can sell the F-18s to Canada.

Approval is needed because the F-18s were built in the U.S. with American technology.

Canada is hoping for the U.S. approval sometime in the summer.

Although U.S.-Canada relations have hit a slump, with American President Donald Trump vowing to punish Canadians because of ongoing economic disputes, the DND does not expect that situation to affect approval for the fighter jet deal to proceed.

Pat Finn, the Department of National Defence’s assistant deputy minister of materiel, has said he expects that a deal will be in place by the end of the year with deliveries of the Australian planes to begin in the summer of 2019. The Liberal government originally planned for the arrival of the first used aircraft in January 2019.

The Liberal government had originally planned to buy 18 new Super Hornet fighter jets from U.S. aerospace giant Boeing.

But last year Boeing complained to the U.S. Commerce Department that Canadian subsidies for Quebec-based Bombardier allowed it to sell its C-series civilian passenger aircraft in the U.S. at cut-rate prices. As a result, the Trump administration brought in a tariff of almost 300 per cent against the Bombardier aircraft sold in the U.S.

In retaliation, Canada cancelled the deal to buy the 18 Super Hornets. That project would have cost more than US$5 billion.

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