US approves $5 billion fighter jet sale to Canada

Story highlights

  • The announcement comes just days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised doubts about the deal
  • The State Department's announcement seems to suggest that the US is confident the deal will go forward

(CNN)The US State Department notified Congress Tuesday of its intent to sell up to 18 F/A-18 fighter jets to Canada, worth approximately $5.23 billion overall.

The proposed deal includes 10 F/A-18E and eight F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft as well as supporting equipment and armaments for both sets of jets.
The announcement comes just days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised doubts about the deal due to an ongoing dispute between the jets' US-based manufacturer, Boeing, and the Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier.
    "Canada is reviewing current military procurement that relates to Boeing," Trudeau's office said in a statement last week following a call between the Canadian prime minister and the governor of Missouri, where F/A-18s are manufactured.
    The statement said Canada was reviewing the deal due to Boeing's pursuit of "unfair and aggressive trade action against the Canadian aerospace sector."
    In April, Boeing asked US officials to slap tariffs on Bombardier, accusing the Canadian company of dumping its C Series passenger jets on the US market at "absurdly low prices."
    The dispute has drawn in other US allies, with UK Prime Minister Theresa May raising the issue during a phone call with Trump last week, seeking to safeguard thousands of jobs at a Bombardier factory in northern Ireland.
    But the State Department's announcement seems to suggest that the US is confident of the deal going forward as such announcements are rarely made without both countries being in agreement.
    Canada's purchase of new F/A-18s is intended to help bridge the gap between its aging fleet of CF-18s and a new future aircraft.
    The Canadian Ministry of Defense announced plans in June to dramatically increase the country's defense budget, money that would allow Canada to acquire 88 new jet fighters for the nation's air force.
    But that future replacement aircraft has still yet to be identified.
    Canada initially planned to join the US and several other allies in acquiring the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but Trudeau campaigned on not buying the stealth jet and holding a new competition for a replacement aircraft.
    It is unclear whether the F-35 will be included in a future competition.
    President Donald Trump had also been critical of the costs associated with the F-35 program, even going as far as to suggest the US might ditch the fifth-generation combat aircraft in favor of a modernized F/A-18.
    But Trump has since appeared to have warmed to the F-35 program after a February statement in which Lockheed Martin credited Trump for helping to "accelerate negotiations."