OTTAWA, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Canada said on Tuesday it was scrapping the planned purchase of 18 Boeing Co Super Hornet jets and made clear the U.S. company currently has little chance of winning a larger contract for 88 fighters.
The announcement marks a new low in relations between the Liberal government and Boeing, which are locked in an increasingly acrimonious trade dispute.
Canada will instead buy a second-hand fleet of 18 Australian F-18s, the same planes the Canadian air force already operates, officials told reporters.
The Australian jets - set to cost around C$500 million ($388 million) - will act as a stopgap measure until Canada has run a competition for 88 fighters and the new jets start entering service in 2025.
In a clear reference to Boeing, an official said "any bidder responsible for harm to Canada's economic interests will be at a significant disadvantage" if the harm was still being inflicted the time bids for the 88 jets are being assessed.
Reuters reported last week that the Liberal government would abandon plans to buy the 18 Boeing jets after the U.S. aerospace giant launched a trade challenge against Canadian plane maker Bombardier Inc, accusing it of dumping airliners on the American market. ($1 = 1.2883 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by David Ljunggren and Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Susan Thomas)