Canada could modernize CF-18 Hornets until replacement by new fighters

As the Finland and the Switzerland, Canada should very soon choose the new fighter that will replace its fleet of F / A-18 Hornets, locally redesignated CF-188 or CF-18A +. If the date for submission of the application files has been postponed for a few months Due to the Covid-19 epidemic, the 88 new Canadian fighter jets are still expected by 2025, with deliveries to end in 2035. This schedule however means that the current CF-18 Hornets will have to play extensions at least until 2030, and most probably beyond, until the new aircraft are not only received but also fully operational within the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

In order for the Hornet fleet to last another fifteen years, several decisions have been made by Canadian authorities. On the one hand, around 25 Hornets were purchased second-hand in Australia, in order to allow the RCAF to align an additional squadron of Hornets and to avoid overuse of the approximately 75 CF-18s still in service in Canada. However, this decision has raised many criticisms given the advanced age of Australian aircraft. On the other hand, Ottawa asked Washington to authorize the sale of equipment and weapons allowing modernization in depth, but at reduced cost, at least two squadrons of CF-18 Hornet. However, this request has just been accepted by the American authorities.

The Canadian CF-18s are first generation Hornets, already modernized to the CF-18A + standard, equivalent to the F / A-18C Hornets. The new modernization, validated by Washington, would give them operational capabilities close to those of the F / A-18E / F Super Hornet, yet much larger.

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