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Canada to upgrade Hornets with AESA radar

The RCAF is to fit the Raytheon AN/APG-79(V)4 AESA radar to 36 of its classic Hornet aircraft. (Raytheon)

Canada is to upgrade a portion of its Boeing CF-18 legacy Hornet with a new active electronically scanned-array (AESA) radar system.

Announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 20 September, the upgrade will see Raytheon provide 36 of its AN/APG-79(V)4 radar systems ahead of the integration onto Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-18s.

As noted in the DoD contract notification, the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) is valued at USD140.4 million and will run through to March 2024.

According to Janes World Air Forces , the RCAF operates 76 F/A‐18 (CF‐188 or CF‐18) Hornet fighter aircraft, of which 58 are single‐seat CF‐188As and 18 are two‐seat CF‐188Bs. This AESA radar is the latest in a series of upgrades since the first aircraft were received in 1982, including improved radar, jam‐resistant radios, embedded GPS, Link 16 datalink, a helmet‐mounted cueing system, colour displays, and an upgraded countermeasures dispensers.

The Raytheon AN/APG-79(V)4 AESA radar is a form-fit replacement for the Hornet's incumbent AN/APG-73 mechanically scanned radar and is a scaled version of the AN/APG-79 AESA radar fitted to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler.

The Hornet AESA upgrade will see the fleet through to the introduction of a new combat aircraft type that is currently out to tender. Being competed by the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, the selected platform is slated to enter RCAF service in the mid-2020s.

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