First Interim Fighter Jets Arrive in Cold Lake
(Source: Canadian Department of National Defence; issued Feb 17, 2019)
The first two Royal Australian Air Force F-18A Hornets that are being sold to Canada flew into Cold Lake air base on Sunday from Nellis air force base, in Nevada, where they had taken part in a Red Flag exercise. (RCAF photo)
COLD LAKE, Alberta --- 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.

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.

These aircraft are the same type as Canada’s current CF-18 fleet and can be integrated quickly into our 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.


“The interim fighter fleet is key to ensuring the Royal Canadian Air Force can continue to fulfill their missions and ensure the safety of Canadians and Canada. We are familiar with these aircraft and are confident that they can provide the additional support our current fleet requires. They were flown in yesterday by the Royal Australian Air Force and I look forward to seeing them fly again soon in our Canadian colours,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister.

“The arrival of these aircraft will support our women and men in uniform to fulfill their missions and meet Canada’s international obligations. As part of the procurement, we will make the necessary investments in these aircraft to ensure they meet the requirements of the Royal Canadian Air Force,” said Carla Qualtrough, Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility Minister.

Quick facts

-- These first two aircraft are the F/A-18A model, which means they are single seat aircraft.

-- The aircraft were flown to Cold Lake, Alberta, from Nellis, Nevada, where they were participating in Exercise RED FLAG.

-- 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.

-- Energized retention and recruitment efforts are underway to ensure the RCAF achieves the right number and experience levels of pilots and technicians.

-- The aircraft will be employed at 3 Wing Bagotville and 4 Wing Cold Lake.

-- Canada continues to make progress toward replacing its fighter fleet. The formal request for proposals for the future fighter fleet is expected to be released in spring 2019, with a contract award in 2021-22 and deliveries to begin in 2025.


Delivery of First Two Classic Hornet Aircraft to Canada
(Source: Australian Department of Defence; issued Feb 18, 2019)
The first two Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 AB Hornet aircraft to be sold to the Royal Canadian Air Force have been delivered to Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake in Alberta, Canada, following their successful participation in Exercise Red Flag 2019.

Under a deal between the Australian and Canadian Governments, the two Hornets are the first of up to 25 aircraft that will be sold to Canada along with spares and support equipment.

Minister for Defence, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, highlighted the mutual benefits of this sale to both Australia and Canada.

“Australia and Canada have a longstanding defence relationship and this sale is an excellent example of our mutual commitment towards supporting our respective defence capabilities,” Minister Pyne said.

“These jets have served Australia very well and will now continue to make a positive contribution to the air combat capability of one of our closest allies.”

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, thanked members of Australia's defence industry for their significant involvement in the planning and preparation of the transfer of these aircraft.

“Transfers of this complexity can only happen through a coordinated effort between Defence and our industry partners,” Minister Ciobo said.

“This deal is an example of the great strides the Government is taking to create an Australian defence industry which is globally competitive, innovative and export focused.

“The Government is working with industry to maximise opportunities for Australian companies both here and abroad to build a stronger defence industry.

“The stronger our defence industry, the more safe and secure the country is.”


Integrating Australian Jets into the Current Royal Canadian Air Force Fighter Fleet
(Source: Canadian Department of National Defence; issued Dec 12, 2017)
Canada recently announced its decision to purchase Australian F-18 aircraft to supplement the current fleet of fighter aircraft. These aircraft are of similar age and design to Canada’s CF-18 fleet and can be integrated quickly with minimal modifications, training and infrastructure changes.

In order to integrate these aircraft into Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) operations, the following steps will be taken. Once complete, the aircraft purchased from Australia will integrate seamlessly with the current CF-18 fleet.

Life extension and upgrade
The Australian F-18 aircraft will be modified and undergo the technical work to be brought to a similar configuration to Canada’s CF-18 aircraft, and to ensure that they will be available to supplement the CF-18 fleet until the future fighter fleet is procured. Canada has extensive experience doing this with our current fleet of fighter jets.

Modifications and maintenance of the current CF-18 fleet will continue to be required. The Government of Canada has evaluated the required work and associated costs to sustain the current fleet and these additional aircraft.

Over the years, both Australia and Canada have made significant investments in the development of structural modifications and capability that have allowed the structural life of our respective F-18s to be extended. More recently however, Canada invested in the development of additional structural modifications that Australia did not. These modifications are currently being applied to Canadian aircraft, and will also be applied to Australian aircraft acquired by Canada thereby allowing a further life extension.

These aircraft are currently being employed in operations. Inspections have confirmed that they can be life extended and upgraded to the level of our current fleet.

Acquiring spare parts
Part of the purchase from the Australian government will include spare parts to help sustain these additional aircraft and the existing CF-18 fleet until the future fighter fleet is operational. Canada also has an existing supply chain for F-18 parts that we will continue to use.

Training and personnel
Training for the Australian F-18 is identical to that which is required for the present fleet of CF-18s. More aircraft will require more pilots and more technicians to maintain the aircraft. As outlined in Strong, Secure, Engaged, energized retention and recruitment efforts are underway to meet these personnel requirements.

Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, requires the Canadian Armed Forces to fulfil missions at home, in North America, and elsewhere in the world, concurrently. With respect to Canada’s fighter capability, the Royal Canadian Air Force must be able to provide a number of mission-ready planes to fully and simultaneously meet Canada’s commitments to both NORAD and NATO.

Canada does not currently have the aircraft or personnel to fully meet these commitments simultaneously. The supplementation of additional aircraft will provide required capacity to meet our obligation in a seamless way with our current fleet.

The first supplemental aircraft are expected to be available for operational employment in the early 2020s, after structural upgrades are completed to match the CF-18 fleet.

The aircraft will be employed at 3 Wing Bagotville and 4 Wing Cold Lake. DND is currently reviewing infrastructure requirements to accommodate the additional aircraft. Any modifications are expected to be minimal as the supplemental jets are of similar age and design to the CF-18.


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