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UPDATE 1-Boeing defense unit seeks talks with Canada over jets threat -source

(Adds quotes, details on situation)

OTTAWA, May 19 (Reuters) - Boeing Co's defense unit is seeking talks with Canadian officials as it tries to fend off a government threat to scrap the purchase of 18 Super Hornet jets, a source familiar with the situation said on Friday.

Canada suggested on Thursday it could ditch its plans to buy the jets if the United States backed Boeing's claims that Canadian plane maker Bombardier Inc dumped jetliners in the U.S. market.

"Boeing made the calculation that taking this action was worth the risk," said the source, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.

"However, Boeing military sales division is concerned and is seeking to communicate with Canadian government decision-makers to mitigate the possible impact to their Super Hornet sale."

Military procurement in Canada is handled by both the ministers of defense and public works, neither of whom were immediately available for comment. Boeing said it would respond later in the day.

Canada unveiled plans to buy the jets last November as a stop-gap measure while it prepared an open five-year competition to replace its aging fleet of fighter jets.

Boeing's defense unit is called Defense, Space & Security. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernard Orr)