Liberals again considering sole source purchase of Super Hornet fighter jets to replace CF-18s

18 November 2016

A Liberal government proposal to buy Super Hornet fighter jets as a replacement for the air force’s aging CF-18s is back on the table.But whether it will move ahead is still unclear.

In June the government proposed the purchase of Boeing Super Hornets as an interim measure, but that option disappeared as it faced intense criticism from the aerospace industry and opposition MPs.

Aerospace industry officials say they believed the Liberals were moving towards an open competition for a fighter replacement. But the option to buy the Super Hornets on a sole source basis and forgo a competition until around 2030 has again resurfaced, industry sources now say.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office, with advice from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, has been pushing the option, despite opposition from some leaders in the Royal Canadian Air Force, sources add.

Jordan Owens, a spokeswoman for Sajjan, said Thursday that no decision has been taken yet on replacing the CF-18s.

Sajjan has repeatedly stated there is a need to immediately replace the CF-18s but his comments have been undercut by air force officers who point out the aircraft can keep flying until at least 2025.