Canada has received the first two F/A-18 multirole combat fighter jet from the Government of Australia.
“Today, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) marked the arrival of the first two interim fighter aircraft, an important milestone and investment in sustaining our current CF-18 Hornet fleet,” Canadian Ministry of Defense said in a statement Sunday.
Canada is procuring 18 fighter aircraft and parts from the Government of Australia to rapidly increase availability of the CF-18 fleet in order to ensure the RCAF can meet all obligations simultaneously. The aircraft were flown to Cold Lake, Alberta, from Nellis, Nevada, where they were participating in Exercise RED FLAG.
These aircraft are the same type as Canada’s current CF-18 fleet and can be integrated quickly into the fleet. Modifications and technical work will begin immediately so they can be brought to a similar configuration to Canada’s CF-18 aircraft. The work will continue to be done by Canadian companies.
Deliveries will continue at regular intervals for the next three years, and aircraft will be integrated into the CF-18 fleet as modifications are completed. The final aircraft are expected to arrive by the end of 2021.
Modifications and maintenance of the current CF-18 fleet will continue to be required until the RCAF transitions to a future fighter. A review of combat capability improvements is currently underway, the MoD statement read.
The Justin Trudeau government had signed a deal to purchase 18 old Australian F-18s as an interim measure to bolster the air force until the entire Canadian fleet of CF-18s is replaced.
The government had originally planned to buy 18 new Super Hornet fighter jets from Boeing for $5 billion.
In 2017, Boeing complained to the US (United States) that Canadian subsidies for Bombardier company allowed it to sell its C-series civilian passenger aircraft in the US at cut-rate prices. This resulted in the Trump administration increasing tariff by 300 per cent against Bombardier aircraft sold in the US. Canada then cancelled the deal to purchase Boeing aircraft to acquire old Australian jets.
The Australian F/A-18s will need modifications and upgrades to allow them to fly until 2032.
“They (the Australians) will remove their software and we’ll install our software. Ultimately the intent is the 18 aircraft are indistinguishable from our 76 aircraft,” Pat Finn, assistant deputy minister for materiel at the Department of National Defence had said in January this year.
Canada has planned to install its own software onto the used Australian F-18 multirole combat aircraft. The jets will also be installed with new ejection seats and lighting system which are currently being used on the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CF-18s