Canadian defence Minister Harjit Sajjan sent Boeing a stern rebuke this week after the company prompted a US investigation into Bombardier.
After Boeing accused Bombardier of dumping its CSeries jet onto the US market, the US Department of Commerce launched an investigation to determine if the company received unfair subsidies from the Canadian government. That provoked Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland to threaten a review of Canada’s procurement of the 18 Super Hornets to fill an interim need.
During an address at this week’s Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, Sajjan said Boeing would remain a trusted partner with the Canadian Armed Forces for years to come but called the company’s actions against Bombardier “unfounded.”
“It is not the behaviour we expect of a trusted partner and we call on Boeing to withdraw it,” Sajjan says.
Canada is continuing discussions with the US government, but the minister of foreign affairs is currently reviewing the entire process, Sajjan told reporters after his address.
“Right now, we need to let the process take its course,” he says. “We've expressed our extreme disappointment in this. We have a longstanding relationship with Boeing...we're hoping that this can be resolved in a manner that respects everyone.”
Canadian defence officials would not speculate on other procurement options outside of Boeing, but outlined the government’s plan to address the current fighter capability gap. Canada is exploring the purchase of an interim fleet, extending the legacy fleet’s life through upgrades and training additional personnel and launching an open competition to replace the entire fleet after the release of Canada’s new defence policy. Sajjan emphasized that when the Department of National Defence examined replacing the aging CF-18s, the interim Super Hornet buy was just one the measures the government took.
The interim purchase is separate from the full CF-18 recapitalisation though the CSeries debacle could sour Boeing’s chances down the road. Sajjan is planning to announce details of the larger replacement programme next week.
The Department of National Defence announced the interim Super Hornet buy and launched the open fighter competition after the Liberal party spurned Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter during Justin Trudeau’s 2015 campaign for prime minister.