The Trudeau government has begun talks with Washington about the sole-source purchase of up to 18 Super Hornet jet fighters.
The measure, intended as a stopgap solution to ease pressure on the air force's aging fleet of CF-18s, could cost taxpayers between $5 billion and $7 billion over the lifetime of the aircraft, according to data circulating within the Department of National Defence and shared with CBC News by sources who insisted upon anonymity.
The figures are only preliminary, but they are backed up by U.S. congressional budget information.
CBC News was granted rare, extraordinary access to officials and facilities belonging to Boeing, the U.S. manufacturer of the Super Hornet, and to the U.S. Navy's principal air base where the fighters operate and train. During that visit, Boeing officials confirmed Canada has begun talks with the Pentagon to buy the planes.
The decision to buy 18 warplanes in a sole-source deal, originally announced last fall, is meant to address what the Liberal government describes as an urgent "capability gap."
But it also lands Canada squarely in the middle of the Trump administration's showdown over the future of the Super Hornet's rival, the oft-maligned F-35.
1st delivery by 2019?
There are questions about what kind of deal Canada will get on the Super Hornets, especially with the new U.S. administration.
A final agreement, which requires congressional approval, will take about a year to negotiate, but CBC News has learned the Liberal government has already signalled it would like to see the first aircraft arrive in 2019, which would coincide with the next election. (end of excerpt)
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