Improvements to maintain the CF-18 fleet have also been ongoing and another upgrade program is in the works
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.
Ottawa expects the winner to deliver the first aircraft in 2025 and complete the deliveries of 88 jets by 2030.
Canada has been upgrading the CF-18 over the years.
In 2001 a modernization project was launched to allow the planes to continue operating until 2017-2020.
According to National Post structural improvements to maintain the fleet have also been ongoing and another upgrade program is in the works, with the aim to keep the planes flying until 2025, according to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
That will provide the planes with various systems to allow them to operate with allied air forces as well as meet new rules to fly in domestic and international airspace. There could also be upgrades to weapons, the RCAF says.
At this juncture, it is unsure if more upgrades need to be done to keep it in service till 2032.
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.
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 Canadian Air Force and Alain Rioux via Wikimedia Commons
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com