Canada's "new" Australian F/A-18 Hornet fighters are in need to upgrade their ejection seats and external lighting


By Dario Leone
Feb 6 2018
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The country will also have to make sure the Australian F/A-18 aircraft don’t have fatigue issues similar to their CF-18s

Edmonton Journal reports that Canada plans to upgrade the ejection seats and external lighting of the Australian F/A-18 Hornet fighters when they are bought over.

Canada will also have to make sure the jets don’t have fatigue issues similar to their CF-18s.

Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-18 numbers have dropped by more than half to 76 aircraft from a peak of 138.

Noteworthy the Australian jets are required as a stop-gap measure because of the timing between receiving the new planes and retirement of the older ones.

The CF-18s have most recently been used as part of Operation Reassurance in eastern Europe. They were also deployed as part of the Middle East Stabilization Force in Iraq and Syria where they conducted 1,378 sorties and were involved in 251 airstrikes on ISIL targets.

“Individual aircraft will be retired when either their safe structural life has expired or they are no longer required given the delivery of the permanent fleet,” said Department of National Defence spokesperson Jessica Lamirande.

“It is anticipated that the supplemental aircraft will be in service for several years, sufficient to ensure the capability gap is filled until the transition to the permanent CF-18 replacement that commences in the second half of the 2020s is complete.”

Lamirande said Canada invested in the development of additional structural modifications which, after being applied to Canadian aircraft, could also be applied to Australian aircraft that would further extend their service.

As we have previously reported, at a recent industry day to outline Canada’s plan for a new fighter, industry representatives were told that the CF-18 will continue to operate till 2032.

VFA-103 F/A-18F print
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F/A-18F Super Hornet VFA-103 Jolly Rogers, AG200 / 166620 / 2007

Ottawa expects the winner to deliver the first aircraft in 2025 and complete the deliveries of 88 jets by 2030.

Canada announced in December its intention to buy second-hand Australian F/A-18 Hornets and scrap the Super Hornet acquisition from Boeing.

According Canada’s Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan the Australian Hornets are very similar to F/A-18s flown by RCAF and will fit the service needs for an “interim” fighter.

Canada’s government cancelled a planned $2 billion purchase of 18 F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters because of a decision by Boeing to launch a trade challenge against Canadian planemaker Bombardier, which the U.S. giant accuses of dumping airliners on the domestic American market.

By buying the Australian Hornets Canada saved money and avoided the need to train its pilots on a new aircraft or spend money on a new supply chain.

Canada is due to officially announce the requirements for its new fighter fleet in early 2019, kicking off an open competition.

F-35 to incorporate auto-GCAS five-years earlier than originally planned

One potential contender is Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter, which Trudeau initially said he would not buy because it was too expensive. The government has since softened its line, saying the plane would be allowed to compete.

Photo credit: Royal Australian Air Force and Samuel King Jr. / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of

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Dario Leone

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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