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Friday, March 18, 2016

RCAF CF-18 Replacement: Update

Written by JDM, CAFDispatch Author
Published March 18, 2016

I have previously written and reposted on this topic before; which fighter jet best fits Canada's needs for a replacement to the ageing CF-18s.

Canada's current fleet of Macdonald-Douglas F/A-18 (known as CF-18 in Canada) began arriving in 1982. More than half the original fleet has been retired. The RCAF originally had a fleet of 138 CF-18s, but now maintains around 67 CF-18 Hornet's in active duty. This is why, whatever fighter is chosen as a replacement, the Canadian Government is only looking at purchasing 65 new fighter jets.

Personally, I believe the best choice for Canada is the made in Canada-option of the Dassault Rafael. Dassault offered to export the design to Canadian aerospace agencies to built the fighters in Canada. No only does the Rafael out-perform a number of other fighters, it also out performs the Boeign F/A 18 Super Hornert that now seems to be the front runner for the CF-18 replacement.

Doug Allen of The Best Fighter for Canada recently wrote the following:

"Most mainstream media (I hate that term) sources label the Super Hornet as the odds-on favorite to replace the CF-18. The reasoning is simple enough, it is the only obvious American alternative to the F-35. It is also seen (right or wrong) as an "upgraded" version to the current CF-18.

"The Super Hornet is bound to be the most popular choice. It is cheap (as modern fighters go), capable, twin-engined, and will see service in the US and Australia well into the 2040s. The "Rhino" is certainly the safest choice.

"It helps that both Boeing and the Pentagon would very much like to keep the Super Hornet's assembly line going. That can only happen with new orders. With the JSF being the priority right now for the USA, those orders are going to have to come from non-American buyers. This is easier said than done however. Expect the USA to push the Rhino with almost the same fervor as the F-35 if Canada passes on the latter." 

Personally while I see the political reasoning for purchase the Super Hornet - I fear purchasing an aircraft that is based on a late 1980s design update of the F/A-18. The Boeing Super Hornet, had its first flight in 1995, and entered service in 1999.  Therefore it is already nearly 2 decades old. While the US and Australian Air Force plan to fly their Super Hornet's into the 2040s, that would mean Canada would need to look at replacing its fleet again in the next twenty years...the CF-18s (by the time they are retired in mid-2020) will have flown for nearly 40 years...

We should be looking for an aircraft that will give us a 40 year lifespan; if not; a minimum of 30 years...but to go through this whole process again in 20 years seems redundant.