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Boeing 'Respects' Canada's Decision to Buy Old, Australian Hornets

A Royal Australian Air Force F-18A Hornet takes off from RAAF Williamtown, during Exercise Diamond Shield 2017 in New South Wales, Australia, March 21, 2017. (U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Steven R. Doty)
A Royal Australian Air Force F-18A Hornet takes off from RAAF Williamtown, during Exercise Diamond Shield 2017 in New South Wales, Australia, March 21, 2017. (U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Steven R. Doty)

With Canada expected to decline a sale from the U.S. for F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, the aircraft's maker says it understands the move.

"The Boeing Company respects the Canadian government's decision and applauds the government's continued use of a two-engine fighter solution, which is a critical part of their northern Arctic border defense, NORAD [North American Aerospace Defense Command] cooperation, and coast to coast to coast security," the company said in a statement Friday.

The U.S. government in September agreed to a potential sale of nearly 20 Super Hornet aircraft to Canada worth $5.2 billion, the State Department announced.

The terms of the agreement called stipulated 10 F/-A18E and eight F/A-18F Boeing-made fighter jets along with accompanying parts, support and weapons, the department said at the time.

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Instead, Canada has opted to buy a fleet of older F/A-18 classic Hornets from the Royal Australian Air Force, Reuters first reported this week.

"Although we will not have the opportunity to grow our supply base, industrial partnerships and jobs in Canada the way we would if Canada purchased new Super Hornets, we will continue to look to find productive ways to work together in the future," Boeing said.

The aerospace giant lauded its "outstanding 100 years" partnership, which has in recent time "culminated in our $4 billion annual economic impact in Canada," according to the statement.

The news of the cancelled U.S. sale follows nearly a year of hesitation from The Liberal Party of Canada, headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, over procuring Lockheed Martin Corp.-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

Last November, Canada's government sidestepped the issue by saying it would buy Super Hornets in the interim to bolster its aging fleet of CF-18s.

Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan at the time said the overuse of Canada's McDonnell Douglas-made CF-18 fleet "would carry risk this government is not willing to take" to sustain current supplemental operations under NATO and NORAD.

Competition to purchase an entirely new fighter jet will come at a later date, Sajjan said.

Canada has been in discussions for years to purchase approximately 60 F-35 jets, but lawmakers have grown weary of setbacks in the stealth jet program.

"Our commitment to creating a level playing field in aerospace remains," Boeing said. "Therefore, we will continue to support all efforts to build an environment of free and fair competition marked by compliance with agreed upon rules."

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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