Military Aviation


There is a gap, and it needs to be filled: some of Canada’s CF-18s are almost 40 years old and are coming to the end of their operational life

Canada’s top general, Jonathan Vance, told Reuters that the military is still pushing for the purchase of the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters despite a dispute with Boeing over Bombardier C Series narrow-body airliners.

“There is a gap, and it needs to be filled,” said Vance referring to Canada’s aging fleet of 77 CF-18s. Some of the fighters in fact are almost 40 years old and are coming to the end of their operational life.

As we have already reported Canada was involved in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program development since 1997 and on Jul. 16 2010, the Government of Canada under Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced its intention to buy 65 F-35s to replace the Canadian Forces’ existing 80 CF-18 Hornets.

On Oct. 19, 2015 the Liberal Party of Canada under Justin Trudeau won the country federal election and in early Jun. 2016 decided to buy the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as interim fighter (and as more affordable alternative to the F-35).

But critics say it makes little sense to buy fighters that might be only used for a short period. Vance dismissed the idea of leasing the fleet. “One cannot lease fighters,” he said.

However should Canada decide not to acquire the Boeing planes as a stopgap measure, it could order from Lockheed-Martin (F-35), Dassault Aviation (Rafale) or Eurofighter GmBH (Eurofighter Typhoon).

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F/A-18E Super Hornet VFA-31 Tomcatters, AJ100 / 166776. CVW-8, USS George H. W. Bush CVN-77, 2014

According to St. Louis Post- Dispatch, depending on Canada’s choice for the permanent fleet, this could result in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) operating two different kinds of modern jets at the same time, a prospect that did not worry Vance.

“Why is it so odd that the RCAF would be operating two fleets?” he said. “We used to operate three, four fleets.”

Given that Canada is part of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) the new planes must be interoperable with those used by the U.S..

This means Canada is likely to buy U.S. jets for the permanent fleet, people familiar with the matter have previously told Reuters.

In fact we must remember that the interim fighter won’t be Canada’s “definitive” fighter aircraft. Actually an open competition (which possibly will include the F-35, the F/A-18 Super Hornet and the European-built fighters) will determine which aircraft is the best to meet RCAF requirement.

Photo credit: Lt. Aaron B. Hicks and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bryan Mai / U.S. Navy

Artwork courtesy of

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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