The U.S. government has approved Canada’s purchase of used F-18 fighter jets from Australia, the National Post news agency reported on 21 September.
The sign-off from the Americans was needed because the aircraft were built in the U.S. with U.S. technology.
Dan Le Bouthillier of the Department of National Defence (DND) also confirmed that negotiations with Australia over the sale of the 25 used fighter jets is on-going.
“Should all negotiations and approvals move forward as planned, aircraft would start arriving in Canada in 2019, and the project remains on track to achieve this milestone,” Dan Le Bouthillier said. “The delivery plan, including mode of delivery, will be finalized once negotiations are complete and the aircraft being purchased are selected.”
Daily Herald Tribune reported that the Liberal government originally announced it would buy 18 used Australian F-18 jets to augment the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18s until new aircraft can be purchased in the coming years. But it has added seven more used Australian F-18 aircraft to the deal.
Those extra aircraft will be stripped down for parts or used for testing.
The exact cost of purchasing the 25 aircraft, along with weapons and other equipment, is not yet known, Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough pointed out earlier this year. The Liberal government has set aside up to $500 million for the project.
Earlier this year, Pat Finn, the DND’s assistant deputy minister of material, said the government has received what’s called a letter of cost proposal on the impending sale. “The Australians have now gone to the U.S. State Department for the transfer under ITAR,” Finn explained to MPs on the Commons defense committee at the time.
Finn indicated the DND wants to have the deal in place by the end of this year. “The idea of firming this up in the fall of 2018 was for the start of delivery of the two first aircraft to be next summer, and then quickly beyond it,” he added.
According to the Scramble Magazine, Canada will now obtain up to 25 surplus RAAF F/A-18A/Bs, of which 18 will be used to fill a capability gap, while Ottawa decides on its next fighter aircraft. It is expected that the other seven will be used for non-flying activities such as spare parts reclamation and battle damage repair training.