U.S. approves sale of interim Super Hornets to Canada

The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of a fleet of 18 Boeing Super Hornet fighter jets to Canada.

Super Hornet in flight
The DSCA said the department had given the green light to the possible sale of 10 F/A-18E single seat (pictured) and eight F/A-18F tandem seat aircraft. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin V. Cunningham
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In a release issued Tuesday, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said the department had given the green light to the possible sale of 10 F/A-18E single seat and eight F/A-18F tandem seat aircraft, as well as their GE Aviation F414-400 engines.

The Liberal government announced in November its intention to acquire 18 jets to fill an urgent capability gap in the Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188 Hornet fleet. Despite an ongoing and increasingly heated dispute with Boeing, discussions have proceeded with the U.S. government for the foreign military sale of the jets.

Boeing has alleged unfair Canadian government support to the Bombardier C Series, and petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce to initiate antidumping and countervailing duty investigations. A decision is expected Sept. 25.

In response, Canadian ministers threatened to review all military procurement related to Boeing, including the interim fighter jet.

An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in 2016.
An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in 2016. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Burke

The dispute between Boeing and Bombardier is expected to be on the agenda next week when British Prime Minister Theresa May meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Canada. Bombardier has a large presence in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and facilities throughout the U.K.

The Canadian government in February provided Montreal-based Bombardier with a $372.5 million interest-free loan over four years to support the Global 7000 business aircraft program and the C Series. The Quebec government previously made a US$1 billion investment in the C Series in exchange for a 49.5 percent stake in the program. Boeing launched its challenge in part over the sale in April 2016 of 75 CS100 aircraft to Delta Air Lines for a reported $5.6 billion.

DSCA, which notified Congress of the possible sale on Monday, said the proposed deal would include not only the aircraft, but also aircraft and engine spares, AESA (active electronically scanned array) radars, 20 millimetre gun systems, electronic warfare countermeasures systems, sniper targeting pods, joint tactical radio systems, joint helmet mounted cueing systems, integrated countermeasures systems, and distributed targeting and processing systems.

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In addition to guided missile launchers, the weapons suite would include AIM9X-2 Sidewinder Block II tactical missiles, AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II captive air training missiles, AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II special air training missiles Sidewinder Block II tactical guidance units.

The sale would also involve night vision goggles, combined interrogator transponders, towed decoys, joint mission planning system, GPS navigation systems, instrument landing systems, high speed video network digital recorders, auxiliary fuel tanks and a range of test and technical support.

The total package has an estimated value of US$5.23 billion (CDN$6.3 billion), according to DSCA, and would include systems or support from Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Electric, Raytheon and Raytheon Missile Systems. Canada, the release noted, would negotiate its own industrial offset agreements.

DSCA cautioned that State Department approval does not mean a done deal, but said “this proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally which has been, and continues to be, a key democratic partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability.”

In a statement, Boeing deferred to the U.S. government on official details but said, “we are encouraged by the [government’s] support for this important capability in the defense of North America.”

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