If a purchase is approved, the Super Hornets will supplement Canada's legacy CF-18 fleet until officials agree on a permanent solution. Photo by Seaman Theo Shivel/U.S. Navy.
OTTAWA, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The government of Canada is exploring a potential purchase of 18 new F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters to replace the aging aircraft in its fleet.
In a statement announcing an open and transparent competition to replace its legacy CF-18 aircraft, Canadian defense officials noted their country's fleet is over 30 years old, and down from 138 planes to 77.
"Every Government has to decide the level of risk they are willing to accept to Canada, and our women and men in uniform," Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said. "Having to manage our commitments to NORAD, NATO, and our ability to respond to unforeseen events is not a risk this Government is willing to accept. The interim fleet provides the most effective way forward to help ensure Canada remains a credible and dependable ally."
If the purchase is approved, the Super Hornets will be used to supplement the CF-18s until government officials agree on a permanent replacement. Canada initially had plans to procure the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but those plans were put into doubt after a Liberal electoral victory in 2015. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned against the F-35 program ahead of the election.
While Trudeau's government has not yet indicated a permanent solution, officials say the purchase of an interim fleet will satisfy current defense needs.
"This is about getting our women and men in uniform the equipment they need to do their jobs and protect Canadians in the most effective way possible while maximizing economic benefits for the middle class and those working hard to join it," Procurement Minister Judy Foote added.
The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet is a multirole air superiority fighter. Australia and the United States are currently the only primary operators.