Buying Super Hornet fighter jets would cost Canada more than $6B, U.S. government confirms

It will cost Canada more than $6 billion to buy 18 American-made Super , the U.S. government announced , even as a trade that threatens the deal remains unresolved.

The Liberal government’s plans to buy the planes, intended as a stopgap measure until the purchase of a replacement fleet for Canada’s aging CF-18s, was derailed when the jet’s manufacturer, , filed a trade complaint against over the Quebec company’s civilian jets.

It is unclear whether the Super Hornet purchase will ever be completed, as Boeing has ignored Canadian government demands to drop the complaint that could see the Trump administration enforce tariffs on Bombardier aircraft being sold in the U.S.

On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department outlined for the first time the extent of the proposed deal and its cost to Canadian taxpayers.

The estimated price tag for the Super Hornet package is US $5.23 billion — or nearly $6.4 billion according to current exchange rates — according to a notice issued by the State Department. The notice of a potential sale is required by U.S. law and does not mean the sale has been concluded, the statement added.

That price goes well beyond the aircraft themselves, which are estimated to cost around US $77 million each; rather, it includes advanced targeting systems, spare parts, initial training and some maintenance, and almost 170 missiles.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with Prime Minister Theresa May next week to discuss the trade dispute with Boeing. May asked U.S. Donald Trump last week to intervene in the situation, as the government is concerned about the impact on jobs at Bombardier’s plant in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jet, manufactured by Boeing Co.

In April, while on its way to wrapping up the , Boeing complained to the U.S. government that Bombardier was receiving government subsidies which allowed it to sell its C-Series civilian passenger aircraft at below-market prices. The U.S. Commerce Department and International Trade Commission then launched an investigation, which is ongoing.

That prompted the Liberals to start backing away from the Super Hornet deal, although federal officials acknowledged they were still talking with the U.S. government over acquiring fighter aircraft. “It is not the behaviour of a trusted partner,” Sajjan said of Boeing in a late May speech to industry executives unprecedented in its criticisms of the company.

Marc Allen, Boeing’s president of international business, said the company took its action to ensure a level playing field in the industry. He said Boeing believes that global trade only works if everyone plays by the same rules. That wasn’t the case for Bombardier, he argued. Boeing has also said the Super Hornet deal should not be connected to a commercial trade dispute.

In response to the U.S. State Department notice on the Super Hornet cost, Boeing released a statement Tuesday saying it was “encouraged by the U.S. Government’s support for this important capability in the defense of North America.”

Meanwhile, Canadian aerospace workers will hold a rally outside the U.S. consulate in Montreal to protest Boeing’s complaint against Bombardier.

 “The International Association of Machinists helped build the infrastructure of the Quebec Aerospace industry, we built it and we will protect it,” IAM Quebec Coordinator Dave Chartrand said in a statement.

“Boeing’s arguments are hollow,” added Chartrand. “Boeing did not even bid on the Delta contract and the C-Series poses no threat to Boeing’s 737 because it’s not in the same size class.”

The IAM is the in Canadian aerospace with more than 6,000 members employed by Bombardier at plants in Montreal and surrounding area. It is also the at Boeing.

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