The Defence department’s procurement chief says the Royal Canadian Air Force might not need the seven used Australian F-18 aircraft being purchased for parts afterall.
|The first used Australian F-18 arrives at CFB Cold Lake earlier this month. It appears that not all 25 procured used jets will even be used. Australia has even asked for some of the engines be returned as a result of a shortage.|
Canada is buying 25 used F-18s from Australia, with 18 of those to be flown and seven to be either stripped down for parts or used for testing. The aircraft to be flown will augment the existing RCAF CF-18 fleet until a new generation fighter jet can be purchased.
But Pat Finn, the Department of National Defence’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Materiel, said there may be no need for the seven F-18s. “The seven, whether or not we actually take them at this point, we’re still looking at that,” Finn recently told the Commons defence committee. “What we’re actually finding is the number of spares that they’ve been able to provide to us is more than adequate. Rather than take aircraft apart and go through that cost, we’re taking the spares. We may not, in fact, at this point look at any of the seven.”
It is unclear whether there will be a reduction in the cost of the purchase or the overall project cost if the seven airframes are not acquired.
The DND also clarified what is happening with the engines on the Australian F-18s. Rumours have been circulating in the retired military community that the engines are being stripped out of the planes and given back to Australia.
“Only the engines from the first two Australian F-18s (four engines total) are being returned to Australia, at their request,” explained DND spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier. “Australia needs those engines to meet their own operational requirements.”
In order to take advantage of an advanced delivery date for the first two Australian aircraft, Canada agreed to return those aircraft’s engines to Australia, but the plan is to get an equivalent number of engines back at a later date, he added.
“Canada has sufficient engines in reserve to support this plan and this will have no impact on operations,” Le Bouthillier stated. “We therefore found this to be a reasonable request, and agreed to it.”According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s recent report provides more details about the used Australian F-18s that Canada is purchasing. Eighteen of the 25 will eventually be flying, while the other seven will be used for spare parts and testing.
Here are details taken from the PBO report:
According to PBO calculations, the Canadian fleet is both slightly older and has experienced more usage than the Australian fleet. The average Canadian F-18 had accrued over 6,000 flying hours by the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year. These calculations are supported by media reports indicating that by 2014, the CF-18s had accumulated over 5,700 flying hours on average, with over a third of the fleet already having flown over 6,000.
Canada’s Department of National Defence has stated that the aircraft being purchased from Australia’s F-18 fleet are very similar to those currently in operation within the RCAF.
The fleet arrival profile consists of 2 aircraft in 2018-2019, 2 aircraft in 2019-2020, 8 aircraft in 2020-2021, and 6 aircraft in 2021-2022;
The aircraft will enter service approximately 6 months after being received;
The aircraft will each accumulate about 160 flying hours per year, in accordance with the recent experience of the Canadian CF-18 fleet;
Each Australian F/A-18 has accumulated an average of 6000 flying hours over the course of its operational history with the Royal Australian Air Force;.