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​US clears suspended Super Hornet export to Canada

The US State Department has approved a potential sale of Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to Canada, but bad blood between the Canadian government and Boeing may have already spoiled the deal.

The proposed sale would include 10 single-seat F/A-18Es and eight two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft, along with a host of equipment including 100 Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II missiles, according to the 12 September State Department notice.

Canada announced plans last year to buy 18 Super Hornets as an interim solution for replacing a subset of the CF-18 Hornet fleet due for retirement within five years. The government submitted a letter of request for the Super Hornet to the US government in March, but suspended negotiations three months later after Boeing initiated an anti-dumping trade case against Bombardier Commercial Aircraft at the Department of Commerce.

The recent State Department approval does not indicate relations have patched up, but that US government continued with its process to respond with a letter of formal proposal.

“Our position on Boeing has not changed, and as a result of the current trade challenge, Canada is reviewing military procurement that relates to Boeing and has suspended direct engagement with the company,” a spokeswoman from the Canadian Minister of National Defence office tells FlightGlobal. “In this case, our engagement is not, and has never been with Boeing, it’s been with the US Government, through the US Foreign Military Sales Programme.”

As the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency states with all arms export approval notices, Canada is under no obligation to purchase the aircraft.

The government will continue exploring options to supplement its aging CF-18 fighter fleet until a permanent replacement fleet is fully operational, the spokeswoman says.

One of those options could include procuring used Boeing F/A-18A/Bs. Last week, Canadian defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced the government visited Australia to inspect the F/A-18A/Bs, which the Royal Australian Air Force intends to phase out when Lockheed Martin F-35 deliveries begin in 2018.

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