The McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet (official military designation CF-188) is a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) (formerly Canadian Forces Air Command) fighter aircraft, based on the American McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet fighter. In 1980, the F/A-18 was selected as the winner of the New Fighter Aircraft Project competition, and a production order was awarded. The Canadian Forces began receiving the CF-18 in 1982. CF-18s have supported North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) air sovereignty patrols and participated in combat during the Gulf War in 1991, the Kosovo War in the late 1990s, and as part of the Canadian contribution to the international Libyan no-fly zone in 2011. CF-18s were also part of the Canadian contribution to the military intervention against ISIL, Operation Impact.
In 1977, the Canadian government identified the need to replace the NATO-assigned CF-104 Starfighter, the NORAD-assigned CF-101 Voodoo and the CF-116 Freedom Fighter (although the decision was later made to keep the CF-116). Subsequently, the government proceeded with the New Fighter Aircraft (NFA) competition, with a purchase budget of around C$2.4 billion to purchase 130–150 of the winner of the competition. Candidates included the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, Panavia Tornado, Dassault Mirage F1 (later replaced by the Mirage 2000), plus the products of the American Lightweight Fighter (LWF) competition, the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F/A-18 Hornet, and a de-navalized version of the Hornet, the F-18L. The government stressed that the winner of the competition be a proven off-the-shelf design and provide substantial industrial benefits as part of the order.
By 1978, the New Fighter Aircraft competitors were short-listed to just three aircraft types: the F-16 and the two F-18 offerings. The F-14, F-15, and the Tornado were rejected due to their high purchase price, while Dassault dropped out of the competition. The F-18L combined the systems and twin-engine layout of the F-18 that Air Command favored with a lighter land-based equipment setup that significantly improved performance. Northrop, the primary contractor for the F-18L version, had not built the aircraft by the time of the NFA program, waiting on successful contracts before doing so. While Northrop offered the best industrial offset package, it would only “pay off” if other F-18L orders were forthcoming, something the Department of National Defence (DND) was not willing to bet on.
The F-14 almost entered Canadian service through the backdoor due to the Iranian Revolution. In the aftermath of the revolution, the United States cut off all military supplies to Iran, which meant that the Iranians’ new fleet of F-14s would potentially be rendered unflyable due to a lack of spares. The Canadians offered to purchase them at a steeply discounted price. Negotiations ended before a deal was reached as it was revealed that Canadian involvement was crucial in the smuggling of American embassy personnel out of the new Islamic Republic.
In 1980, the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet was declared the winner of the New Fighter Aircraft competition. The order included 98 single-seat variants and 40 dual-seat variants, for a total of 138 purchased, plus 20 options (which were not exercised). The F/A-18 Hornet was then dubbed the CF-188. Outside official military documents, the aircraft are referred to as CF-18 Hornets. Reasons for the selection listed by the Canadian Forces were many of its requested features were included for the U.S. Navy; two engines for reliability (considered essential for conducting Arctic sovereignty and over-the-water patrols), an excellent radar set, while being considerably more affordable than the F-14 and the F-15. The CF-18 was procured from 1982 to 1988, at a total capital cost of $4 billion in 1982 dollars.
The original CF-18 as delivered is largely identical to the F/A-18A and B models. A total of 80 CF-18s, consisting of 62 single-seat and 18 dual-seat models, were delivered. Many features that made the F/A-18 suitable for naval carrier operations were retained by the Canadian Forces, such as the robust landing gear, the arrestor hook, and wing folding mechanisms.
The most visible difference between a CF-18 and a U.S. F-18 is the 0.6 Mcd night identification light. This spotlight is mounted in the gun loading door on the port side of the aircraft. Some CF-18s have the light temporarily removed, but the window is always in place. Also, the underside of the CF-18 features a painted “false canopy”. This is intended to momentarily disorient and confuse an enemy in air-to-air combat. Subsequently, the U.S. Marine Corps Aviation and the Spanish Air Force F/A-18s also adopted this false canopy.
The need to upgrade the CF-18 was demonstrated during the Gulf War I deployment and during the 1998 Kosovo conflict as advances in technology had rendered some of the avionics on board the CF-18 obsolete and incompatible with NATO allies. In 2000, CF-18 upgrades became possible when the government increased the defence budget.
In 2001, the Incremental Modernization Project was initiated. The project was broken into two phases over a period of eight years and was designed to improve air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities, upgrade sensors and the defensive suite, and replace the datalinks and communications systems on board the CF-18 from the old F/A-18A and F/A-18B standard to the current F/A-18C and D standard. Boeing (merged with McDonnell Douglas) the primary contractor and L-3 Communications the primary subcontractor, was issued a contract for the modernization project starting in 2002. A total of 80 CF-18s, consisting of 62 single-seat and 18 dual-seat models were selected from the fleet for the upgrade program. The project is supposed to extend the life of the CF-18 until around 2017 to 2020.
- Replacement of the AN/APG-65 radar with the new AN/APG-73 radar, which has triple the processing speed and memory capacity, while also incorporating Terrain Following and Terrain Avoidance modes for low level ground attack missions. Furthermore, the new AN/APG-73 radar is also capable of guiding the modern AIM-120 AMRAAM medium range missile.
- Addition of the AN/APX-111 Combined Interrogator and Transponder, otherwise known as an IFF (Identification Friend or Foe). The new IFF brings the CF-18 up to current NATO standards for combat identification.
- Replacement of the radios with the new AN/ARC-210, RT-1556/ARC VHF/UHF Radio. This radio, capable of line-of-sight communications on VHF/UHF frequencies as well as HAVE QUICK, HAVE QUICK II, and SINCGARS waveforms resolved the issues of compatibility with allied forces, and are more resistant to jamming.
- Replacement of the mission computers with the General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems AN/AYK-14 XN-8 mission computer with increased memory and processing capabilities.
- Replacement of the Stores Management System with the Smiths Aerospace AN/AYQ-9 Stores Management System. This makes the CF-18 more compatible with the latest of precision guided munitions (PGMs) and furthermore adds the MIL-STD-1760 interface for use of the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile and the JDAM family of GPS-guided bombs.
- Installation of a Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System (GPS/INS) capability, enhancing the CF-18’s navigational capabilities.
Within the same time frame, other non-IMP upgrades include:-
- Installation of a new infrared sensor pod.
- Replacement of the old cathode ray tube cockpit instrument panels with new flat paneled, full colour LCD displays from Litton Systems Canada (now L-3 Es Canada).
- Addition of a new night vision imaging system.
- Purchase of the AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-range missiles and other advanced air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.
- Application of a landing gear “get well” program to reduce corrosion and improve gear retraction.
- Replacement of the existing CF-18 flight simulators with the Advanced Distributed Combat Training System.
The first completed “Phase I” CF-18 was delivered to the Canadian Forces on time in May 2003. Final delivery of all “Phase I” CF-18s was done at a ceremony on 31st August 2006 at L-3 Communications in Mirabel, Quebec.
Phase II of the CF-18 Incremental Modernization Project was awarded to Boeing on 22nd February 2005. It consists of the following upgrades:-
- Addition of a Link 16 data net system to the aircraft, enhancing interoperability with major NATO allies.
- Integration of the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System from Boeing, BAE Systems, DRDC and L-3 Communications MAS.
- Addition of a crash survivable flight data recorder.
- Upgrade of the electronic warfare suite.
- Within the same time frame, other upgrades unrelated to the IMP phases include:
- A fuselage Centre Barrel Replacement Project (for 40 of the upgraded aircraft).
- An Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation System.
- An Integrated Electronic Warfare Support Station.
- An Electronic Warfare Test Equipment Project.
The first completed “Phase II” CF-18 was delivered to the Canadian Forces on 20th August 2007, at a ceremony in Montreal. The total cost of the entire CF-18 Incremental Modernization Project and concurrent Hornet upgrades was expected to be around C$2.6 billion. The final upgraded aircraft was delivered in March 2010.
The total program cost for the CF-18 purchase and upgrade programs is approximately $11.5 billion including upgrades, in 2011 dollars. Additionally, the cost of maintenance for any 20-year period has been approximately $5 billion, or $250 million per year.
The first two CF-18s were formally handed over to 410 (Operational Training Unit) Squadron at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta on 25th October 1982. Further deliveries equipped 409, 439, and 421 Squadrons at Baden-Soellingen in then West Germany, the 410 Operation Training Unit, No. 416, and No. 441 Squadrons at Cold Lake, and 425 and 433 Escadrilles (Squadrons) at CFB Bagotville, Quebec. Introduction into Canadian service was initially problematic due to early issues with structural fatigue which delayed initial deployment. As the initial bugs were worked out, the CF-18 started filling the NORAD interception and NATO roles as intended.
In 1991, Canada committed 26 CF-18s to the Gulf War on Operation Friction. The CF-18s were based in Doha, Qatar. During the Gulf War, Canadian pilots flew more than 5,700 hours, including 2,700 combat air patrol missions. These aircraft were taken from Canada’s airbase in Germany, CFB Baden-Soellingen. In the beginning the CF-18s began sweep-and-escort combat missions to support ground-attack strikes by Allied air forces. During the 100-hour Allied ground invasion in late February, CF-18s also flew 56 bombing sorties, mainly dropping 500 lb (230 kg) non-guided (“dumb”) bombs on Iraqi artillery positions, supply dumps, and marshaling areas behind the lines. At the time the Canadian Hornets were unable to deploy precision guided munitions. This was the first time since the Korean War that the Canadian military had participated in combat operations.
Continuing violence in the former Yugoslavia brought CF-18s into theatre twice: first for a deployment (Operation Mirador) during August–November 1997 for air patrols supporting NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and again from late June 1998 until late December 2000 (Operation Echo).
From March to June 1999, with 18 CF-18s already deployed to Aviano, Italy, Canada participated in both the air-to-ground and air-to-air roles. Canadian aircraft conducted 10 percent of the NATO strike sorties despite deploying a much smaller percentage of the overall forces. Canadian pilots flew 678 combat sorties: 120 defensive counter-air escorts for Allied strike packages and 558 bombing strikes during 2,577 combat flying hours. CF-18s dropped a total of 397 PGMs and 171 non-guided bombs on a wide variety of targets including surface-to-air missile sites, airfields, bridges and fuel storage areas.
Since 2001, CF-18s have responded to nearly 3,000 possible threats to Canada and United States. A task group of CF-18s and CH-146 Griffons were deployed during “Operation Grizzly” to Kananaskis, Alberta in June 2002 where they were deployed to secure the airspace during the 28th G8 summit. In 2007, an unknown number of CF-18s were deployed to Alaska. They were deployed during two weeks to defend United States airspace as a result of the primary USAF F-15 fighter jet fleet being grounded due to structural defects. They were also deployed during “Operation Podium” to secure the 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics games.
After a United Nations Security Council resolution was adopted to enforce a Libyan no-fly zone, the Government of Canada on 18th March 2011, authorized the deployment of six CF-18 Hornets with one Hornet in reserve as part of Operation Mobile. The Hornets were based at Trapani-Birgi Italian Air Force base in western Sicily. CF-18s were first put into combat on 23rd March 2011 when four aircraft bombed Libyan government targets. The seven Hornets returned to CFB Bagotville, Canada, on 4th November 2011 after the end of the UN-approved NATO mission. In total, the Hornets conducted 946 sorties, making up 10% of NATO strike sorties. Over the course of their sorties, 696 bombs were dropped including Laser-guided bombs and Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM). The RCAF has dropped 495 of the 227 kg versions (500 lbs) and 188 of the 910 kg versions (2,000 lbs) Paveway II bombs. The RCAF also dropped 11 Joint Direct Attack Munitions of the 227 kg versions and two 910 kg versions.
Canada sent six CF-18s to Iraq as part of Operation Impact on 21st October 2014. Air strikes on ISIS/ISIL positions began on 2 November 2014. The CF-18s flew air strike missions until 15th February 2016.
Various fighter aircraft have been considered by the Canadian Forces as replacements for the CF-18, with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab JAS 39 Gripen, Dassault Rafale, and the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet all having been promoted as contenders by their manufacturers. According to Le Devoir, project costs without considering maintenance, training and spare parts, were estimated at $4 to $8 billion.
Boeing indicated that the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, a derivative of the F/A-18 Hornet, was a less expensive alternative at an estimated total cost of $4 billion. One of the manufacturers in contention, Boeing, BAE Systems or Saab Aerospace—the name was not disclosed—had promised to assemble the entire aircraft in Canada although. Boeing said that it was contemplating shutting down production of the F/A-18 fighter production line due to lack of orders.
In July 2010, the Canadian government announced that the F-35 Lightning II would replace the CF-18. Canada has been a partner in the Joint Strike Fighter program since 1997, and a Tier 3 partner for the F-35 Lightning II since 2002. The Canadian Forces planned to buy 65 F-35s with deliveries starting in 2016; the contract was estimated to be worth C$9 billion, including aircraft and associated weapons, infrastructure, initial spares, training simulators, contingency funds and project operating costs. Media reports indicated that the lifetime cost of the aircraft might be as high as C$40 billion. In December 2012 it was announced that the government had abandoned the F-35 deal due to escalating cost, and was beginning a new procurement process, with the F-35 still being considered.
On 20th September 2015, Canadian Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau promised to cancel the country’s F-35 procurement plan if he were elected, instead replacing Canada’s ageing fleet of CF-18s with a less costly alternative, arguing that the F-35 was not needed to defend Canada. He was sworn in as Prime Minister on 4th November 2015. On November 22nd, 2016, the Liberal government announced the purchase of 18 Boeing Super Hornet fighter jets to fill a “capability gap” as a stop-gap measure until new jets could be properly sourced and purchased, a process that could take up to five years according to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
In May 2017, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced that Canada would purchase significantly more than the 65 jets originally proposed by the previous government. He stated that if Canada is to meet its NATO and NORAD commitments while also maintaining its own national air defence, “then 65 jets would not be a full fleet. It would only be a fleet for risk managing our requirements, not meeting them.”
On 2nd June 2017, it was announced that Canada would be acquiring 88 advanced multi-role fighter jets. As an interim measure pending replacement, Canada decided in December 2017 to purchase 18 F/A-18A/B Hornets (a mix of flyable airframes and spares) from the Royal Australian Air Force. It was later announced in an Australian Senate hearing that Canada planned to purchase another seven Hornets for spare parts.
JC Wings 1/72nd scale CF-188 Super Hornet Royal Canadian Air Force 150th Anniversary of Confederation 2017
The 2017 Demonstration Hornet was painted to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada, and honours the history of the RCAF and Canadian Armed Forces. The main colours are red and white, Canada’s traditional colours. The official logo for Canada 150 is placed throughout the design. The logo is composed of a series of diamonds, or “celebratory gems”, arranged in the shape of the iconic maple leaf. The four diamonds at the base represent the four original provinces that formed Confederation in 1867: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Additional diamonds extend out from the base to create nine more points. In total they symbolize Canada’s 13 provinces and territories. On the left wing, the timespan of confederation is shown with the year of confederation, 1867, and the 150th anniversary year – 2017. The right wing bears the official name of the celebration – “Canada 150”.
Available to pre-order from Flying Tigers JC Wings 1/72nd scale CF-188 Super Hornet Royal Canadian Air Force 150th Anniversary of Confederation 2017 is strictly limited to ONLY 600 pieces worldwide. Don’t miss out ! Please click on the images below to go straight to the model page to order now.
Hobbymaster Updated Photo Gallery
Check out the updated model photo gallery on pre-order Hobbymaster models. Please click on the images / links below to go to the model of your choice, or CLICK HERE to see them all in the Future Releases section.
Flying Tigers End of Year Sale ! Additional models added !
Flying Tigers End of Year Sale is here again ! Loads of new models have been added to the Sale so grab yourself some bargains. I have split the Sale into FIVE sections so it is easier to shop for the models you want. Some of the models have very limited stocks, so first come …first served.
Offer subject to availablity. Offer ends 6.00 p.m. Monday 7th January 2019 .
Please click on the images below to go to the Sale Section of your choice.
Corgi Aviation New 2019 Catalogue
The latest Corgi Aviation Archive Catalogue is due to be announced on Monday 7th January. The Flying Tigers website will be updated as soon as the announcement is made. Watch this space !
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