Canadian Hornet upgrade approved by US

The US State Department has approved the possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of new munitions and radar systems to Canada, as the nation seeks to extend the life of its legacy Hornet fleet.

Approval of the potential deal – worth US$862.3m – was announced in a media release from the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on June 16, after it had notified the US Congress.

According to the DSCA, “this sale will provide Canada a [two-squadron] bridge of enhanced F/A-18A aircraft to continue meeting NORAD and NATO commitments while it gradually introduces new advanced aircraft via the Future Fighter Capability Program between 2025 and 2035.”

CF-188A [Royal Canadian Air Force/Cpl Bryan Carter] #1
A Canadian CF-188A Hornet - serial 188767 (c/n 463, line number A380), belonging to the 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron - is marshalled by ground crew after arriving in Bodø, Norway, for Exercise Trident Junture in October 2018. RCAF/Cpl Bryan Carter

Canada has requested to buy a number of Raytheon-produced munitions under the potential deal, which includes 50 AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II short-range air-to-air missiles and 20 AGM-154C Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) glide bombs. It also includes 20 Improved Tactical Air Launched Decoys (ITALDs). The DSCA has also approved the sale of 38 Raytheon AN/APG-79(V)4 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars and 46 wide-band radomes. The deal comes with support equipment and logistics services.

“The proposed sale of the capabilities, as listed, will improve Canada’s capability to meet current and future warfare threats and provide greater security for its critical infrastructure,” the DSCA added.

Canada has operated the F/A-18A/B – which is designated the CF-188A/B Hornet in Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) service – since October 1982. AirForces Intelligence states that, as of June 23, the air arm operates 55 single-seat CF-188A Hornets and 20 two-seat CF-188Bs.

In February 2019, the RCAF accepted the first two second-hand F/A-18A/B Hornets from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) – from a planned acquisition of 18. These aircraft will be used to supplement Canada’s existing Hornet fleet as it progresses with its Future Fighter Capability Program.