The Canadian military is hoping to ask the government early next year for approval to spend up to $500 million to modernize its CF-18 fighter jets.
The upgrade would keep the planes flying until 2025, giving the government some breathing room to organize the purchase of replacements and make sure they are delivered before the older jets are taken out of service.
Work has already started to ensure the CF-18s are structurally sound.
Now, the military is analyzing improvement options for communications equipment to deal with changes in civil aviation regulations. There could be other upgrades to weapons and how the CF-18s communicate and operate with Allied fighter jets.
“This project is expected to go for potential government submission early in 2017,” said Ashley Lemire, Department of National Defence spokeswoman.
The options focus “on what is required from a regulatory and interoperability perspective.”
The DND estimates the cost of the modernization at between $250 million and $499 million, depending on the options chosen and what the government accepts, say defence sources.
Military officers say the upgrades will have to be done by 2021 to make financial sense — new fighter jets are expected by 2025. That means decisions on the upgrades must be made and contracts placed by 2018.
Since 2002, Canada has spent $2.6 billion modernizing the CF-18s. The planes were bought in 1982.
The Conservative government planned to buy 65 F-35 stealth fighters to replace the CF-18s. The purchase was put on hold as the cost ballooned and technical problems emerged.
During last year’s federal election, the Liberals said they would buy a less expensive fighter jet if they came to power.
In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the F-35 “does not work, and is far from working.”
But the Liberal promise not to buy the F-35 has been thrown into question by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who has said any competition would be open to all jets. He has insisted the government must move “quickly” selecting a new fighter jet, but has not outlined any timetable.
Last month, the House of Commons defence committee called on the government to pick a replacement within a year. It pointed out the costs of the new jets should be well documented so other military equipment programs would not be affected.
Both the NDP and Conservatives argued the report was written to support the Liberal government’s defence strategy.
“The committee report marshals evidence to bolster the Liberal decision to sole-source the purchase of Super Hornets,” the NDP said in its submission.
That refers to the Liberals’ attempt in the summer to buy Super Hornet fighter jets, built by Boeing, instead of holding a competition. The plan was put on hold after it prematurely became public when Postmedia revealed the scheme.
Industry sources say they believe some senior Liberals still hope to revive the Super Hornet sole-source purchase in the near future.
Sajjan has said the Canadian military is facing a “capability gap” since the CF-18 fleet can’t handle the country’s commitments to NATO and the North American Aerospace Defence Command’s needs to protect the continent.
“Between our NORAD and NATO commitments and how many jets are serviceable at one time, we cannot meet both those requirements simultaneously,” he said in July.
“The Canadian Armed Forces have been risk-managing this problem for some time now and the previous government found it acceptable. I do not, and I want to make sure that we give all the tools necessary not to put the Canadian Armed Forces in a scenario to risk-manage.”
Original post: ottawacitizen
The Boeing CF-18 Hornet (military designation: CF-188) is a multi-role combat aircraft designed and manufactured by McDonnell Douglas which is currently part of Boeing Integrated and Defence System (BIDS), US. The aircraft was built for the Canadian Force and is based on its predecessor, the F/A 18 Hornet.
The aircraft can be utilised for air defence, air superiority, tactical support, training, aerobatic examination and aerospace testing and evaluation.
The Canadian Forces initially acquired 128 CF-18 Hornets of which 25 were lost in accidents and 43 were sold to an undisclosed customer. The fleet is expected to be retired from service between 2017 and 2020.
CF-18A and CF18B variants
Boeing CF-18 Hornet is available in two variants namely CF-18A and CF-18B. CF-18A is a single seat combat and ground attack aircraft. Its military designation is CF-188A.
CF-18B is fitted with two seats in the cockpit for pilot and co-pilot. Its military designation is CF-188B.
CF-18 Hornet programme and development
In an effort to replace its F-104 Star Fighter aircraft the Canadian Government launched the Fighter Aircraft Competition (FAC) in 1977, disclosing a purchase budget of around C$2.4bn for the competition winner.
F/A-18 Hornet won the competition in 1980. The maiden flight of the aircraft took place in November 1978. The deliveries to Canadian Forces began in 1982. The aircraft entered service in January 1983.
The Department of National Defence (DND) initiated Incremental Modernisation Project (IMP) in 2001 to modernise the CF-18 Hornet Fighter aircraft. The modernisation contract was awarded to Boeing and L-3 Communications in 2002. About 62 CF-18As and 18 CF-18Bs were upgraded as part of the IMP project, in two phases.
Phase I was completed in August 2006 and had cost $436m. It included replacing the AN/APG-65 radar in the aircraft with AN/APG-73. The aircraft was fitted with a terrain avoidance system (TAS), identification friend or foe (IFF) transponder and a modern AN/ARC-210 RT-1556/ARC VHF/UHF radio for line of sight communications.
Other works in Phase I included replacement of the existing mission computer and stores management with General Dynamics AN/AYK-14 XN-8 mission computer and Smiths Aerospace AN/AYQ-9 Stores Management System respectively.
Phase II was completed in March 2010 and had cost $150m. It included integration of a Link 16 data net system, a joint helmet mounted cueing system (JHMCS), a crash survivable flight data recorder (CSFDR) and a flare dispensing electronic warfare suite into the aircraft. The JHMCS facilitates the pilot to designate targets around the aircraft.
The CF-18 Hornet features a high-powered night identification light fitted in the gun loading door. A dummy canopy under the aircraft's fuselage confuses the enemy while executing air-to-air combat missions.
The aircraft is equipped with an infra-red sensor pod, colour LCD displays, a night vision imaging system, a combat training system, an air combat guiding instrumentation system, and rough landing gear.
The supersonic fighter aircraft is powered by two General Electric F404-GE-400 turbofan engines. Each engine can produce 71.2kN of thrust.
The length and diameter of the engine are 3.9m and 0.88m respectively. The dry weight is 995kg.
The Boeing CF-18 can climb at a rate of 254m/s. The maximum speed of the aircraft is 1,814km/h. The combat radius and ferry range are 537km and 3,330km respectively. The service ceiling is 15,000m.
The aircraft weighs 10,455kg and its maximum take-off weight is 23,400kg.