OTTAWA -- The U.S. State Department has signed off on the transfer of 25 second-hand Australian F-18 Hornets to the government of Canada. U.S. approval was necessary because the transfer involved U.S. weapon systems.
Canada is buying the aircraft to meet an interim requirement for additional fighters until a permanent replacement for the country's CF-18 fleet can be found. The interim requirement was the result of a change in Canada's defense policy that calls for the Royal Canadian Air Force to be able to meet both NATO and North America air defense requirements concurrently, as well as concerns that the availability rate of the existing fleet of CF-18s was inadequate.
Negotiations for the second-hand aircraft are currently underway, and U.S. approve of the transfer should allow a deal to be finalized by the end of the year. Deliveries are expected to be begin in summer 2018. Canada originally intended to buy 18 new F/A-18E/F Super Hornets from Boeing in a potential $5.2 billion deal approved by the State Department in September 2017.
The plan fell through when an unrelated trade dispute erupted after Boeing claimed that the Canadian government was subsidizing Bombardier's CSeries commercial aircraft. Ottawa subsequently abandoned the Super Hornet deal, at which point an agreement was made for the Australian aircraft.
The original plan was to buy 18 aircraft from Australia, but news outlets reported in June of this year that an additional seven aircraft were added to the deal to be used for spare parts.