The US State Department has approved an upgrade for Canada’s fleet of Boeing F/A-18A (CF-18A/CF-188A in national service) Hornet combat aircraft, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 16 June.
Canada is to upgrade a number of its CF-18A combat aircraft to afford it a ‘two-squadron bridge of enhanced F/A-18A aircraft’ through to the introduction of a new type in the mid-2020s. (Canadian Joint Operations Command)
The approval, which was granted the day prior to the notification, covers a range of new equipment and weaponry for an estimated USD862.3 million.
“This sale will provide Canada [with] 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,” the DSCA said. “This sale will provide Canada the ability to maximise the systems’ employment and sustainment, significantly enhancing the warfighting capability of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s [RCAF’s] F/A-18 aircraft.”
According to the notification, the RCAF has been cleared to upgrade its Hornets with Raytheon AN/APG-79(V)4 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar sets (38 of which have been approved, as well as support equipment); Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II short-range air-to-air missiles (50, plus related equipment and training devices); Raytheon AGM-154C Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW-C) systems (20); Improved Tactical Air Launched Decoy (ITALD) systems (30); and wide-band radomes (46).
Other enhancements include upgrades to the Advanced Distributed Combat Training System (ADCTS) to ensure flight trainers remain current with the new technologies, as well as software development to integrate the systems listed into the aircraft and to install an Automated Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS).