CF-18 Hornet

CF-18 Hornet

infobox Aircraft
name = CF-18 Hornet |type = Multirole fighter
manufacturer = McDonnell Douglas / Boeing

caption = A Canadian CF-18 flies off the coast of Hawaii
designer =
first flight =18 November 1978
introduced =7 January 1983
retired =
number built =
status =
primary user = Canadian Forces
more users =
unit cost =US$35 million in 2003Fact|date=December 2007
developed from = F/A-18 Hornet
variants with their own articles =

The McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet (CF-188) is a Canadian Forces aircraft, based on the American F/A-18 Hornet.


The "New Fighter Aircraft"

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. The subsequent decision was to proceed with the "New Fighter Aircraft" competition (NFA), with a purchase budget of around 2.4 billion CAD to purchase 130-150 of the winner of the competition. Candidates included the F-14 Tomcat, 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 F-16 Falcon, 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 two aircraft; the F-16 Falcon and the two F-18 offerings. The F-14, F-15, and the Tornado were rejected due to the 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. However, Northrop, the primary contractor for the F-18L version, had not built the aircraft by the time of the NFA program, waiting on successful deals before doing so. Additionally, 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 Defense (DND) was not willing to bet on.

However, the F-14 almost entered Canadian service through the backdoor due to the Iranian Revolution. In the aftermath of the revolution, the US cut off all military supplies to Iran, which meant that their new fleet of F-14s would be potentially rendered unflyable due to a lack of spares. The Canadians offered to purchase them at a steeply discounted price. However, the negotiations died before a deal was reached as it was revealed that Canadian involvement was instrumental for the smuggling of American embassy personnel out of the new Islamic Republic. [ [ The CF18 Hornet fighter aircraft – In Detail (Part 3)] ]

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 (the name Hornet not being used as the translation in French is "Frelon," which is already used by a French military helicopter). However, in every context except the most official of military documents, the planes are referred to as CF-18 Hornets. Reasons for the selection listed by the Canadian Forces were many of the features that was requested to be included for the US 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.

CF-18 design changes

The most visible difference between a CF-18 and a US F-18 is the 600,000 candela 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 "dummy canopy". This is intended to disorient and confuse an enemy in air-to-air combat.

Many features that made the F/A-18 suitable for naval carrier operations were also retained by the Canadian Forces, such as the robust landing gear, the arrestor hook, and wing-folding mechanisms, which proved useful when operating the fighters from smaller airfields such as those found in the Arctic.

Operational history

Introduction into Canadian Service

The first two CF-18 were formally handed over to 410 (Operational Training Unit) Squadron at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta on October 25, 1982.Spick, Mike. "The Great Book of Modern Warplanes". St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing Company, 2000. ISBN 0-7603-0893-4.] Further deliveries equipped 409, 439, and 421 Squadrons at Baden-Soellingen in then West Germany, the 410 Operation Training Unit, 416, and 441 Squadrons at Cold Lake, and 425 and 433 Squadrons at Bagotville, Quebec. However, 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 US portion of the Gulf War was called Desert Shield/Desert Storm.) The CF-18s were based in Doha, Qatar. During the Gulf War, Canadian pilots flew 5,700+ hours, including 2,700 combat air patrol missions. These aircraft were taken from Canada's airbase in Germany, CFB Baden-Soellingen (now a civilian airport). In the beginning the CF-18s began sweep and escort combat missions to support ground-attack strikes by Allied air forces. However, during the 100-hour Allied ground invasion in late February, CF-18s also flew 56 bombing sorties, mainly dropping 500 lb (230 kg) conventional ("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 (PGMs).

Continuing violence in the former Yugoslavia brought CF-18s into theatre twice: first for a three-month deployment (Op Mirador, August–November 1997) for air patrols supporting NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and again from late June 1998 until late December 2000 (Op Echo).

In 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 ten 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 free-fall iron bombs on a wide variety of targets including surface-to-air missile sites, airfields, bridges and fuel storage areas.

The Future of the Fleet

In 2000, the need to upgrade the CF-18 became necessary as demonstrated during Operation Desert Storm and during the 1998 Kosovo conflict as advances in technology had rendered some of the avionics on board the CF-18 obsolete and out of step when operating with NATO allies. As a response, the military initiated in 2001 a major modernization program for the CF-18 dubbed the CF-18 "Incremental Modernization Project" (IMP). The project was broken into two phases over a period of seven years and is meant 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. The project is supposed to extend the life of the CF-18 until 2017–2020, at which point, the F-35 Lightning II (JSF) is expected to replace the CF-18. Boeing (merged with McDonnell Douglas) the primary contractor and L-3 Communications the primary subcontractor, was then issued a contract for the modernization project starting in 2002. 80 CF-18s, consisting of 62 single-seat and 18 dual-seat models were selected from the fleet for the upgrade progamme.

Phase I of the CF-18 Incremental Modernization Project consisted of:
* Replacing the old Hughes AN/APG-65 radar with the new Hughes (now Raytheon) AN/APG-73 radar, which has triple the processing speed and memory capacity of the old AN/APG-65 radar, while also incorporating Terrain Following and Terrain Avoidance modes for low level ground attack missions. Furthermore, the new AN/APG-73 radar was also capable of guiding the modern AIM-120 AMRAAM medium range missiles that were to be purchased.
* Addition of the BAE Systems 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 and will allow the AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles to be used out to their maximum range while reducing the risk of ‘friendly-fire’ incidents.
* Replacement of the old radios with the new Rockwell Collins 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 that became apparent during the 1991 Gulf War and the Kosovo Conflict, and are furthermore, more resistant to jamming while providing enhanced data link capabilities that previously required the need of multiple radios to accomplish.
* Replacement of the old mission computer with the General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems AN/AYK-14 XN-8 mission computer, which offered increased memory and processing capabilities over the old mission computer.
* Replacement of the old Stores Management System with the Smith Aerospace AN/AYQ-9 Stores Management System. This upgrade is considered an important element of the upgrade as it makes the CF-18 more compatible with the latest of precision guided munitions and furthermore adds the MIL-STD-1760 interface which is required for firing the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile.
* Furthermore, a Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System (GPS/INS) capability was installed on the CF-18 which enhances navigational capabilities of the CF-18.

Within the same time frame, other upgrades not in the scope of the IMP were also conducted:
* A new infrared sensor was installed on the aircraft.
* The old cathode ray tube cockpit instrument panels were replaced with new flat paneled, full colour LCD displays from Litton Systems Canada (now Northrop Grumman Canada). [ [ Boeing Awarded Contract with Canada to Update Displays on F/A-18s] ]
* A new night vision imaging system was added to the aircraft.
* Purchase of the AIM-120 AMRAAM medium range missiles and other advanced air to air and air to ground munitions.
* A landing-gear “get well” program to reduce corrosion and improve gear retraction.
* An Advanced Distributed Combat Training System.

The first completed "Phase I" CF-18 was delivered to the Canadian Forces on time in May 2003. [ [ Boeing Delivers First CF-18 Aircraft from Modernization Project] ] Final delivery of all "Phase I" CF-18s was done at a ceremony on 31 August 2006 at L-3 Communications in Mirabel, Quebec. [ [ Boeing Completes First Phase of CF-18 Aircraft Modernization Project] ]

Phase II of the CF-18 Incremental Modernization Project was award to Boeing on 22 February 2005, which consists of the following upgrades:
* The addition of a Link 16 data net system to the aircraft, enhancing interoperability with major NATO allies.
* The integration of the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System from Rockwell Collins and Israel’s Elbit Systems.*
* A crash survivable flight data recorder.
* An upgraded electronic warfare suite.

Within the same time frame, other upgrades not in the scope of the IMP are also planned:
* 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 August 20, 2007, at a ceremony in Montreal. [ [ Air Force receives first Phase II modernized CF-18 fighter jet] ]

Completion of the final phase of the CF-18 Incremental Modernization Project is expected to be in 2009. Total costs of the entire CF-18 Incremental Modernization Project and additional Hornet upgrades is expected to be around $2.6 billion dollars Canadian. [ [ Canada's Air Force, Aircraft: CF-18 Hornet:Future Plans] ] [ [ CASR - The CF18 Incremental Modernization Program – In Detail] ]


* CF-18A : Single-seat fighter and ground attack aircraft. Canadian Forces designation CF-188A.
* CF-18B : Two-seat training version. Canadian Forces designation CF-188B.


*Year(s) procured: 1982 to 1988
*Originally Ordered: 98 CF-18A / 40 CF-18B

*Current strength: 98 (80 in operational use). 121 Airframes available.

Planned allocation is two operational squadrons of 24 aircraft each, with the remaining 33 available for training, testing and evaluation AETE, and depot level maintenance.

*Operational readiness: Of the 48 aircraft in operational squadrons, 34 (70%) are normally mission-ready on a daily basis.

*Operational lifetime: The Canadian Forces expect the Hornet to maintain front-line status until 2017 to 2020, and also expect losses at an average rate of one aircraft every two years.

*Serial numbers: 188701 to 188798 (CF-18A), and 188901 to 188940 (CF-18B)

*3 Wing CFB Bagotville, Quebec :425 Alouette Tactical Fighter Squadron

*4 Wing CFB Cold Lake, Alberta:409 Nighthawks Tactical Fighter Squadron :410 Cougars Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron :AETE (Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment)
*Rotations from Cold Lake occur from 4 Wing to CFB Comox, British Columbia and from 3 Wing Bagotville to CFB Goose Bay and CFB Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, CFB Greenwood, Nova Scotia, and various forward operating bases in the Canadian Arctic. There are normally a few aircraft at CFB Trenton as well, though not a permanent squadron.

*Cost: US$35 million each in 2003.Fact|date=December 2007


*12 April 1984: Aircraft crashes while performing an exercise at CFB Cold Lake. Pilot killed.
*4 June 1985: Aircraft flown by the CO of 409 Squadron crashes on formation takeoff from CFB Cold Lake. Planes were on the way to CFB Baden-Soellingen; pilot survives.
*24 May 1986: Aircraft crashes in shallow water of Malpeque Bay after takeoff from CFB Summerside. Pilot (Captain Tristan deKoninck) killed.
*4 May 1987: Aircraft crashes after going into a tailspin during test flight near Renchen, Germany. Both crew members eject safely and survive.
*21 September 1987: Aircraft crashes after left engine catches fire on take-off from CFB Bagotville; pilot ejects safely.
*20 October 1987: Aircraft skids into field and disintegrates after pilot tries to abort formation takeoff from RAF Alconbury; pilot survives.
*5 April 1988: Aircraft crashes into hillside on Vancouver Island on a search and rescue mission; pilot killed.
*11 January 1989: Aircraft crashes near CFB Cold Lake on airlift support mission. Pilot killed.
*30 January 1990: Aircraft crashes after takeoff from Inuvik, Northwest Territories, on a cruise-missile intercept exercise, pilot (Captain Rich Corver) killed.
*4 April 1990: Aircraft crashes in Cold Lake Air Weapons Range near CFB Cold Lake. Pilot killed.
*17 April 1990: Two CF-18s from CFB Baden-Soellingen collide while on a training mission in Germany. One crew member killed, other ejects safely.
*22 April 1990: Aircraft plunges into Pacific Ocean during exercise off Vancouver Island. Pilot (Captain Hollis Tucker) killed.
*15 June 1995: Aircraft crashes near Klamath Falls (US ANG Base), Oregon, while on a training exercise. Pilot ejects safely.
*July 5 1995: Aircraft from CFB Cold Lake crashes in Saskatchewan during training. Pilot Capt. Richard Bailey of Vernon, BC killed.
*14 August 1996: Aircraft crashes on takeoff from Iqaluit, Nunavut. Pilot safely ejects. [ [ from 16 August 2006] ]
*26 May 2003: Jet crashes on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range during the annual international training exercise MAPLE FLAG. Pilot (Captain Kevin Naismith) killed. [ [ CBC May 26, 2003] ] [ [ DND Newsroom] ]
*19 June 2004: Aircraft from CFB Cold Lake lost when it was unable to stop while at Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Aircraft was salvaged and is back in service. Pilot ejected but was injured. [ [ CBC Canada 19 June 2004] ]
*16 August 2005: Aircraft crashes during a training exercise near CFB Bagotville. Pilot safely ejects. [ [ Aviation Canada] ]

pecifications (CF-18)

aircraft specification

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet
ref= CF-18 Specifications [ [ CF-18 Technical Specifications] , Canada's Air Force. Retrieved: 6 February 2008.]
crew=1 or 2
length main=56 ft 0 in
length alt=17.07 m
span main=40 ft 0 in with Sidewinders
span alt=12.31 m
height main=15 ft 4 in
height alt=4.66 m
area main=400 ft²
area alt=37.16 m²
airfoil=NACA 65A005 mod root, 65A003.5 mod tip
empty weight main=23,049 lb
empty weight alt=10,455 kg
loaded weight main=37,150 lb
loaded weight alt=16,850 kg
max takeoff weight main=51,550 lb
max takeoff weight alt=23,400 kg
engine (jet)=General Electric F404-GE-400
type of jet=turbofans
number of jets=2
thrust main=16,000 lbf
thrust alt=71.2 kN
max speed main=Mach 1.8
max speed alt=1,127 mph, 1,814 km/h
max speed more=at 36,100 ft (11,000 m)
ceiling main=50,000 ft
ceiling alt=15,000 m
range main=
range alt=
range more=
combat radius main=330 mi
combat radius alt=290 nmi, 537 km
combat radius more=on hi-lo-lo-hi mission
ferry range main=2,070 mi
ferry range alt=1,800 nmi, 3,330 km
ferry range more=(range without ordnance)
climb rate main=50,000 ft/min
climb rate alt=254 m/s
loading main=
loading alt=
* Raytheon AN/APG-73 radar
* BAE Systems AN/APX-111 IFF
* Rockwell Collins AN/ARC-210 RT-1556/ARC VHF/UHF Radio
* General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems AN/AYK-14 XN-8 mission computer
* Smiths Aerospace AN/AYQ-9 Stores Management System
* Nine Weapon/ Store Stations (5 pylons: 1 Under Fuslage and 4 Wing Stations) (2 LAU 116 located on sides of fuslage: deploys AIM 7 Sparrow and AMRAAM Missiles)(2 LAU 7 located on the wing tips: Deploys AIM 9 Sidewinder Missile), carrying up to 13,700 lb (6,215 kg) of missiles, rockets, bombs, fuel tanks, and pods
*1x 20 mm M61A1 Vulcan internal gatling gun with 578 rounds, with firing rate of 4000 or 6000 shots per minute
**Air-to-air: AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-7 Sparrow
**Air-to-ground: AGM-65 Maverick, CRV7 rockets
*Bombs: Paveway, Mk 82, Mk 83, Mk 84, GBU-10, -12, -16 and -24 laser guided bombs.

ee also

* YF-17 Cobra
* F/A-18 Hornet
* F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
similar aircraft=
* F-16 Fighting Falcon
* Mikoyan MiG-29
* Mirage 2000
* List of Canadian Air Force Equipment
* List of active Canadian military aircraft
see also=




* [ Canada's Air Force, Aircraft: CF-18 Hornet]
* [ Canada's Air Force, Aircraft: CF-18 Hornet: History]
* [ CASR - The CF18 Hornet fighter aircraft – In Detail]
* [ CASR - The CF18 Incremental Modernization Program – In Detail]
* [ F/A-18 Hornet]
* [ F/A-18E/F Super Hornet]
* Jenkins, Dennis R. "F/A-18 Hornet: A Navy Success Story". New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000. ISBN 0-07-134696-1.

External links

* [ Canada's Air Force CF-18 Hornet page]
* [ Canada's Air Force - CF-18 Hornet Wallpaper]
* [ "First upgraded CF-18 delivered to Canadian customer"] , Boeing, 21 August 2007. (Phase II modernisation)

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