Feds worry Aussie fighter jets could dredge up disastrous used sub saga
Trudeau government's plan to buy new Super Hornets from Boeing is dead.
OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is said to be wrestling with how best to sell Canadians on the idea of buying used fighter jets from Australia after the disaster that followed Canada’s purchase of second-hand British submarines in the 1990s.
Industry and government sources are confirming the Liberal plan to buy new Super Hornets from Boeing Co. is dead because of the US company’s ongoing trade dispute with Canadian rival Bombardier.
The government is instead moving ahead with Plan B: Buying used F-18 jets from Australia, which the country is selling as it begins to receive new F-35 stealth fighters.
Sources, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, also say there are concerns the decision will resurrect memories of the four subs Canada bought from the UK, one of which caught fire while crossing the Atlantic, killing a naval officer.
The government has also been forced to sink billions into the vessels to address a multitude of technical problems over the years, which has kept them docked more often than they have been at sea.
Australia’s F-18s are almost certain to be cheaper than Super Hornets, and easier to incorporate into the existing fleet, since they are almost identical to Canada’s own CF-18s. But the used jets are 30 years old – the same vintage as the CF-18s – and will need significant upgrades to continue flying into the next decade, which is when the entire fleet is expected to be replaced.