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Canada Extends CF-18 Upgrade (Feb. 21)

OTTAWA --- The second phase of the CF-18 Modernization Project kicked off today during a ceremony that saw the Boeing Company sign a contract with the Department of National Defence for $117 million. Defence Minister Bill Graham and Lieutenant-General Ken Pennie, Chief of the Air Staff, attended the ceremony held by Boeing in Mirabel, Québec.

"The CF-18 is Canada's primary aircraft for maintaining air defence and air superiority," said Minister Graham. "The $2.1-billion CF-18 modernization program will ensure that the CF-18s continue to provide security to Canadians and defend Canada, both at home and abroad, well into the future."

The fighter jets will be equipped with a secure data and communications link that allows CF-18 crews to stay in constant contact with other jets, ground stations, and airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) to maintain awareness in their constantly evolving environment. New state-of-the-art colour display panels will provide pilots with improved access to flight data and communications. Their helmets will feature new visors that display readings from the instrument panel, so that pilots can maintain visual contact with a target and not look down. The aircraft will also be outfitted with a new missile countermeasures chaff/flare dispenser.

"This contract will ensure we have up-to-date aircraft and increased interoperability with our allies," said Lieutenant-General Pennie. "The CF-18 is key to the Air Force's job of guarding North American airspace and protecting Canada's interests abroad."

The modernization program, based on the US Navy's F-18 Hornet upgrade, was found to be the most cost-effective and lowest risk solution for modernizing Canada's CF-18s. The first phase of modernization, also contracted to Boeing, has just passed the midway point and is on target for completion in 2006.

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Defence Minister Kicks off Phase II of CF-18 Upgrades