Canada's plan to shop for used Australian fighter jets rather than buy new Boeing Super Hornets may backfire, according to defence experts, because the U.S. government will ultimately have a say on whether a deal proceeds.
Even though the FA-18 Super Hornets are nearly three decades old, require regular corrosion maintenance and are nearing obsolescence, their proposed resale would still require Washington's approval because they are advanced warplanes, originally manufactured in the U.S., a former Royal Australian Air Force officer told CBC News.
"I imagine all of it is going for a fair bargain price," said Peter Layton, a fellow at Griffith University in South East Queensland, Australia, who was a reserve force group captain.
Few customers exist for Australia's used warplanes, and selling to Canada would be an easier sale than most, because the Pentagon would not require all sensitive technology to be stripped out of the aircraft.
But in the context of Canada's current tit-for-tat aerospace trade dispute with the U.S., another defence expert said no one should expect the Trump administration to do Canada any favours in light of the heated rhetoric surrounding Boeing.
"There's a lot of things they could do just within the executive authority to simply be unhelpful," said Dave Perry, an analyst at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. "I don't know how far they can go, but if the government of the United States didn't want the aircraft to be sold, it would be very difficult to get them."
Australia's defence materiel group produced a scathing report in 2012 noting that the country's FA-18s were rapidly running out of airframe life and required bigger and bigger slices of the maintenance budget. (end of excerpt)
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