U.S. Approves Canada’s Acquisition of Australian F/A-18 Jets

The acquisition of 25 Australian F/A-18 Hornets by Canada was approved by the U.S. federal government. The acquisition is seen as essential by the Canadian Department of National Defence as the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is desperately in need of additional fighter aircraft as well as spare part. Major upgrades are needed on the actual fleet of fighter jets just to make it through another decade of operations but there is no plan to conduct structural upgrades on the Australian jets. Of the 25 F/A-18 Hornets included in the transfer, 7 will be used for spare parts.

The remaining 18 F/A-18 Hornets will be included in the fleet, and will give the RCAF the ability to better fulfill their role both domestically and abroad.

A CF-188 Hornet conducting flight training.
A CF-188 Hornet conducting flight training.

Earlier this year, Canada withdrew from the planned purchase of 18 F/A-E Super Hornets after the United States imposed heavy tariffs on Bombardier’s C Series aircraft. However, the acquisition of the Australian F/A-18 Hornets jets had the be approved by the United States because the jets were built in the US with US technology. The Australian government discussed with the U.S. State Department over the transaction with Canada because the fighter jets are under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) earlier this year.

Department of National Defence officials hope the trade dispute between Canada and the United States won’t affect the acquisition of the F/A-18 Hornets, especially since U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to punish Canada for unfair trade agreements.

CF-188 Hornet aircraft sit on the tarmac at 4 Wing Cold Lake on October 21, 2014 prior to their deployment in support of Operation IMPACT. Photo: Cpl Audrey Solomon, 4 Wing Imaging, Cold Lake, AB
CF-188 Hornet aircraft sit on the tarmac at 4 Wing Cold Lake on October 21, 2014 prior to their deployment in support of Operation IMPACT.
Photo: Cpl Audrey Solomon, 4 Wing Imaging, Cold Lake, AB

With Canada’s increased participation in air operations with NATO as well as an increase in Russian patrols near the Canadian border in the Arctic, the transfer of Australian jets is becoming increasingly important to support the military commitments while maintaining its patrols in Northern Canada.

Adding to that, the ageing fleet of Canadian CF-18s is desperately in need of support until Ottawa takes an official decision on the replacement of the 35-year old aircraft. Although Canada revised its stance on the F-35, the Canadian government is still injecting money in the development of the F-35. In fact, Canada quietly added more than $54 million, bringing its contribution to roughly $500 million.

The first two jets should arrive in Canada in the summer of 2019, with the remaining 23 following shortly thereafter. That said, the method of delivery has yet to be decided.

About Jonathan Wade, CD 60 Articles
Jonathan is decorated former light infantryman who served more than 14 years in the Canadian Forces. Deployed to Afghanistan as part of an embedded mentoring team with the Afghan National Army, Jonathan acquired exceptional leadership skills, culture appreciation as well as a detailed comprehension of the situation on the ground. After his career as a soldier, Jonathan founded The Sentinel Analytical Group (2014-2017), and later renamed the blog to Conflict Observer. His goal is to offer an alternative to mainstream media news with detailed analysis as well as offering vital technical informations for a better comprehension of the situation. Jonathan is also the media analyst for the “Centre sur la sécurité internationale” at the Laval University, a military and strategic analyst for “La Commission Gendron” as well as a project coordinator with the NATO Association of Canada. He is now studying at the Laval University in Russian studies, Political Science, and Arab studies. Jonathan speaks French, English and Russian (elementary). He is also working on Modern Standard Arabic. You can follow Jonathan on Twitter : @JonathanWadeCD. E-mail : jonathan.wade@conflictobserver.com