Boeing applies to stay in race to supply Canada with fighter jets despite trade dispute

Boeing Co, which is locked in a trade dispute with the Canadian government, has applied to stay in the race to supply Canada with 88 new fighter jets, the government said on Thursday.

Deal to replace Canada's fighter jets worth up to $19B

A F18 Boeing-made Super Hornet creates a vapour cone as it flies at a transonic speed while doing a flyby of the USS Eisenhower in this 2015 photo. Boeing has applied to be chosen to supply Canada with its new fleet of 88 fighter jets. (Mark Wilson/Pool Photo via The Associated Press)

The federal government says Boeing has been approved to participate in an upcoming competition to replace Canada's CF-18s, though the U.S. aerospace giant says it still hasn't decided whether it will actually bid.

Public Services and Procurement Canada says Boeing, which makes the Super Hornet jet, is one of five companies approved as potential bidders in the multibillion-dollar competition to deliver 88 new aircraft.

Boeing had remained on the fence when asked whether it would throw its hat in the ring, saying it was waiting to see how the government would run the competition, which will formally kick off next year.

The comments appeared to be in response to the government's plan to change future competitions for military equipment, including fighter jets, to penalize companies deemed to be hurting Canada's economic interests.

The proposed change is believed to be a direct response to Boeing's complaints against Bombardier over the latter's C Series passenger jet, which were largely thrown out last month by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Still, even though Boeing has been allowed to participate, company spokesman Scott Day says the company is continuing to monitor the process and still hasn't decided whether to submit a formal bid.

"Boeing values Canada as a customer and supplier-partner for both our commercial and defence businesses," said Day. "We continue to believe that the Super Hornet is the low-risk, low-cost approach and has all the advanced capabilities the Royal Canadian Air Force needs now and well into the future."

The firms eligible to take part are:

  • Lockheed-Martin, which makes the F-35 stealth fighter
  • Boeing, which makes the F-18 Super Hornet
  • Airbus, which makes the Eurofighter
  • Saab AB, which makes the Gripen
  • Dassault Aviation, which makes the Rafale

With files from CBC News