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New jet delivery delayed

The Royal Canadian Air Force may have to keep its aging CF-18s airborne even longer than already expected after industry sources warned Wednesday that the Trudeau government is planning to push back the delivery date for its new fleet of fighters.

Word of the likely delay comes with the government moving ahead with the purchase of used fighter jets from Australia as a temporary stopgap alongside its existing CF-18s, rather than the original plan of buying brand new Super Hornets from U.S. aerospace giant Boeing Co.

But the government is also wrestling with how best to sell Canadians on the idea of used jets, mindful of the disaster that followed the purchase of second-hand British submarines in the 1990s.

The Liberal government said last year that it planned to start receiving new fighter jets in about five years, or around 2021, at which point the phase-out of CF-18s was scheduled to begin.

But several sources told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that defence officials now don't expect the first of 88 new fighters to be delivered for another eight years, putting the new time frame around 2026.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, would not speculate on why the delivery schedule was being changed.

But the decision could have major financial implications if it means having to sink even more money into the CF-18s to keep them in service longer than planned.

National Defence had already planned to spend up to $500 million to keep its 76 CF-18s flying to 2025, but previous estimates have said extending past that date would be very expensive.



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