The first of 88 new advanced fighter jets will be in service by 2025 and the fleet will be operational by 2026, according to officials from the Department of National Defence (DND).
Facing a barrage of questions about the department’s ability to sustain the current fleet of 76 CF-188 Hornets through to their planned retirement in 2032, Jody Thomas, deputy minister of DND, assured members of the House Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts on Dec. 3 that the aircraft would begin phasing out much sooner.
“The first advanced fighter will arrive in 2025. And the number of mission-ready aircraft will increase quickly to address our NATO and NORAD commitments,” she said. “In fact, we expect to achieve initial operating capability by 2026 with nine advanced fighters ready to fulfil the NORAD mission.”
While the 30-year-old Hornets will remain operational with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) until 2032, “we will not be flying all of the CF-188s until 2032,” she emphasized. “We will only fly as many as we need to support the transition to the advanced fighter fleet.”
Thomas and other senior officials were called to appear before the Public Accounts committee in the wake of a harsh report from the Auditor General on DND’s risk management of the fighter aircraft fleet and the government’s decision to acquire 18 operational Boeing-built F/A-18A/B Hornets from Australia to bridge a so-called capability gap resulting from a change in policy. (end of excerpt)
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