If Canada ever buys Boeing Super Hornet jet fighters, it would be better off with the two-seat variant because they would fetch a better price on the resale market, military planners told the commander of the air force earlier this year.
An internal defence department analysis, obtained by CBC News, also spells out clearly that the 18 warplanes Canada hoped to buy would not be kept once a permanent replacement is purchased for the existing fleet of CF-18s.
The Liberal government has been decidedly opaque on that point since announcing last year it was exploring a sole-source deal.
But the documents, dated Jan. 26, 2017, leave no doubt what would happen to the jets.
"Canada would be required to dispose of the Super Hornets once the permanent fighter replacement fleet was acquired for the RCAF," said the analysis. "Initial information suggest that the resale value of the two-seat FA-18F aircraft would be higher than that of the single-seat FA-18E model."
Past attempts to pin down Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan on the question of how long the air force would fly the Super Hornets was met with a vague response: "The interim fleet is there for the interim period."
Even though they would be more expensive to purchase, dual-seat Super Hornets would provide the air force "with greater flexibility," particularly in complex bombing missions, the documents said.
The entire Super Hornet plan is on shaky political ground because of the trade dispute between Boeing and Bombardier.
The documents, however, cast more doubt on the wisdom of the stopgap purchase, especially in light of last week's recommendation by the U.S. State Department.
Canada won't do business with Boeing while it's 'busy trying to sue us,' Trudeau says
Super Hornet deal still up in the air despite green light in Washington
The agency that oversees foreign military sales in Washington gave Canada the green light to buy both single and dual-seat Super Hornets and estimated the price tag for 18 fighters at $6.3 billion.
Critics have argued it is a lot of money to spend on jets that would be sold off after being flown for perhaps as little as a decade.
US Navy Flight Line crew on Super Hornets
A U.S. navy flight line technician prepares a Super Hornet for flight at the U.S. Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, Va., in January.
Defence analyst Dave Perry said he was surprised that resale value would be a consideration.
"We're not collecting used cars," he said. "This is just adding to the silliness of the enterprise."