A versatile, world-class fighter aircraft, the supersonic CF-188 Hornet, or CF-18 as it is popularly known, can engage both ground and aerial targets. Its twin engines generate enough thrust to lift 24 full-size pick-up trucks off the ground.
As the Royal Canadian Air Force’s frontline multi-role fighter, the modernized CF-18 is used for air defence, air superiority, tactical support, training, aerobatic demonstration, and aerospace testing and evaluation.
The CF-18 has recently been put through a two-phase modernization program, a comprehensive mid-life upgrade to ensure that the Canadian Forces have a modern and interoperable fighter fleet until at least the 2020 timeframe.
Phase I of the Incremental Modernization Project was completed in 2006. This first phase of the CF-18 modernization project included among others, the procurement and installation of a new radar, jam-resistant radios, mission computers and embedded global positioning systems.
Phase II of the Incremental Modernization Project, which was finished in 2010, included the installation and integration of a tactical data link system, helmet cueing system, colour displays, upgraded countermeasures dispensers, and a triple-deck cockpit video recorder, among outfitting the CF-18s with other technologically advanced equipment.
In addition to the two modernization phases for CF-18 aircraft, other CF-18 projects are either completed or ongoing to align the CF-18 aircraft with a fully integrated air capability thus increasing Air Force interoperability with our allies as well as our ability to respond to threats to North America.
Because of its superior power and speed, and its exceptional tracking capabilities, the CF-18 has had great success in many military operations in Canada and around the world.
Canada's first operational deployment of the CF-18 took place during the Gulf War, when Canada sent 24 CF-18s to Qatar to participate in the American-led Desert Shield and Desert Storm campaigns. Similarly, Canada deployed 18 CF-18s to Italy to take part in the Kosovo campaign in 1999.
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, Canada’s fighter force is committed to protecting North America from future threats. As part of Operation Noble Eagle, NORAD’s mission to safeguard North American skies, CF-18s maintain a constant state of alert, ready to respond immediately to potential threats to continental security.
CF-18s were heard over the skies of British Columbia, where they provided around the clock support to the 2010 Olympic Games. In 2011, they played a vital role during Op Mobile, as part of a NATO-led effort to enforce an arms embargo and no-fly zone to protect civilians in Libya in support of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973. Seven CF-18s made up Task Force Libeccio, conducting 946 sorties, ten percent of NATO strike sorties, and dropping 696 bombs of various types to engage military assets threatening the civilian population.
Due to the modernisation of the fleet completed in 2010, our CF-18s will remain viable into the early part of the next decade when Canada’s next generation fighter capability becomes operational.