Canada has taken the next step in its pursuit of an interim fleet of Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets with a letter of request to the US government this week.

On 13 March, the Canadian government sent the letter outlining capabilities, schedule and economic benefit requirements for the interim acquisition of 18 Super Hornets. Canada expects a response from the US as early as this fall, a 14 March government press release states.

The US Department of Defense will then develop an official proposal with Boeing and sub-tier suppliers, including a notification to Congress on the potential Super Hornet sale to Canada. The US and Canada could enter into a formal agreement on the interim fleet in early 2018.

“Canada has confirmed to the US government its commitment to applying its industrial and technological benefits policy on this potential acquisition, which requires suppliers to make investments in Canada equal to 100% of their contract value,” the release states. “This policy will provide Canadian companies with opportunities to directly participate in this procurement, develop Canadian-based suppliers, support innovation through research and development, grow export opportunities for Canadian firms and create jobs for middle-class Canadians.”

Canada’s replacement for its aging fleet of CF-18 fighters became a political cudgel during the 2015 election, with then liberal party candidate Justin Trudeau railing against the cost of the Lockheed Martin F-35 programme. In November, the Trudeau administration’s decision to create an open competition for the CF-18 replacement and entertain an interim Super Hornet fleet represented a blow to Lockheed and a referendum on former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s policies.

Canadian government officials have met with US government officials and Boeing on a regular basis over the last few months to discuss the interim buy, according to the release. Last month, Minister of National Defence Harjit Singh Sajjan met with Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Pentagon, though the department of national defence only officially mentioned discussions around NATO, NORAD and the fight against ISIS.