Mark Collins – RCAF Hornet Life Extension Cost/Smaller Fleet

Further to this post,

“Aviation Week” on Canada’s New Fighter, CF-18 Service Extension to 2025

we now have more details on the consequences of the continuing delays in acquiring a new fighter for the Air Force:

DND to spend up to $500-million upgrading CF-18 fighter fleet to extend life by five years

Delays in large-scale production of U.S. Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth war planes combined with the Harper government’s failure to commit to competitive bidding for a new fighter jet have led to a Department of National Defence plan for a $500-million upgrade to extend the life of Canada’s vintage CF-18 fighter fleet by five years, a new industry acquisition guide for the fighter program shows [this government in fact has never committed to a competition so that in itself is not a cause for the extension].

“In order to ensure there are no operational gaps in the Royal Canadian Air Force’s fighter capability, the Department of National Defence is planning upgrades to extend the CF-18 fleet life expectancy to 2025,” a newly posted version of the department’s Defence Acquisition Guide says [see link at end of quote].

The department estimates the upgrade program would cost from $250-million to $499-million…

The recent Canadian Defence Acquisition Guide says extension of the CF-18 fleet—now at 77 aircraft but with a reduction to 65 aircraft as the fleet is extended—is directly related to the anticipated phase-in of F-35 fighters [also there probably are not 77 planes whose service life can be extended].

“A smaller fleet of aircraft (up to 65 instead of the current 77 CF-18 aircraft) may allow for the reassignment of personnel,” the guide says.

“Definition of maintenance and support concepts for a new F-35A fleet may provide opportunities to realize savings,” it says. “Definition of a training concept may reveal an opportunity to further reduce fuel usage or training ammunition costs [oh those budget woes!],” the acquisition guide says.

One trusts the RCAF is talking to the US Navy, which is extending the life of around 150 of its “legacy” Hornets (younger than ours) and hopes to keep some flying until 2035. Meanwhile on the Canadian F-35 front:

F-35 and Canadian Election: Liberals Loose With Fighter Costs

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a  Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he  tweets @Mark3Ds


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