Boeing applied to stay in the race to supply Canada with 88 new fighter jets, sources were reported saying on February 15, 2018. The plane maker previously stated it wants to see the details of the fighter jet program before deciding whether to join the competition, as it was locked in a trade dispute with the Canadian government.

Companies had until February 9, 2018, to submit their aircraft as contenders in a competition for Canada’s 88 new fighter jet fleet worth between C$15 billion ($12.1 billion) and C$19 billion ($15.2 billion).

According to unnamed sources, Boeing did let Canada know it was interested, but the decision does not mean the firm will necessarily put forward its F/A-18 Super Hornet, Reuters reports. Boeing has not yet commented on the news.

The U.S. plane maker has been indecisive on the matter over the past few months, saying that it is waiting to see how the Canadian government will run the multibillion-dollar competition.

These comments came after Boeing representatives missed the January 22, 2018, industry day in Ottawa, at which the details for a next-generation fighter jet were to be outlined.

Boeing spokesman Scott Daly had said that the company “values Canada as a customer and supplier-partner” for both commercial and defense businesses, and believes that the Super Hornet is the best jet to replace Canada’s aging CF-18.

According to Daly, the company will evaluate its participation after the Canadian government outlines the details of its Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP), Ottawa Citizen reported at the time.

Relations between the Canadian government and the U.S. aerospace giant have been sour since 2017, when the company filed a complaint against Quebec-based Bombardier over the C-Series passenger jet. This led to the Trudeau government abandoning its plans to buy 18 Super Hornets as interim fighter jets for Canada.

The Canadian government had warned that companies seen to be hurting the country’s economic interests would be at a “distinct disadvantage” in the fighter jet competition, a statement that many presumed was directed towards Boeing, Canadian CTV News wrote.

Although on January 26, 2018, the U.S. trade commission dismissed Boeing’s complaint that Bombardier was dumping airliners on the U.S. market, Boeing can still appeal the decision or launch another complaint against its rival Canadian plane maker.

According to Reuters, sources have reportedly said that Ottawa has made clear to Boeing that its chances of winning the jet deal would be harmed if it pursued the Bombardier case.

Billions of dollars of defense procurement orders could be at stake for Boeing if it was excluded from the competition, at a time when Canada is ramping up its military spending. Boeing claims it currently supports around 17,000 jobs in Canada, Today Online reports.

Ottawa says bids will be evaluated in part on the basis of “past and recent economic behavior of potential bidders leading up to the procurement.” A number of factors, including price and military capability, will be looked at in the process.

A request for proposals for the new fighter jets is expected to be released in the spring of 2019. A contract would be awarded in 2021 or 2022, according to Troy Crosby, director general for defense major projects for Public Services and Procurement Canada, the federal department coordinating the acquisition, Today Online writes.

For now, defense experts say Lockheed Martin’s new F-35 stealth fighter jet is likely to be the front runner in the competition. Also in the race are Dassault Aviation and Airbus