Mark Collins – RCAF CF-18 Life Extension: Will Canadian Government Actually Act?

Further to this 2014 story,

Canada [Conservative government] to funnel money into upgrades to keep CF-18 fighter jets flying 

and to this April post,

RCAF: Decisions Needed on Extending CF-18 Hornets’ Service to 2025

will a blinking decision finally be made?

Canadian military to ask Ottawa to approve up to $500 million in spending for CF-18 upgrades

The Canadian military is hoping to ask the government early next year for approval to spend up to $500 million to modernize its CF-18 fighter jets.

The upgrade would keep the planes flying until 2025, giving the government some breathing room to organize the purchase of replacements and make sure they are delivered before the older jets are taken out of service.
Work has already started to ensure the CF-18s are structurally sound.

Now, the military is analyzing improvement options for communications equipment to deal with changes in civil aviation regulations. There could be other upgrades to weapons and how the CF-18s communicate and operate with Allied fighter jets.

“This project is expected to go for potential government submission early in 2017,” said Ashley Lemire, Department of National Defence spokeswoman.

The options focus “on what is required from a regulatory and interoperability perspective.”

The DND estimates the cost of the modernization at between $250 million and $499 million, depending on the options chosen and what the government accepts, say defence sources.

Military officers say the upgrades will have to be done by 2021 to make financial sense — new fighter jets are expected by 2025. That means decisions on the upgrades must be made and contracts placed by 2018.

Since 2002, Canada has spent $2.6 billion modernizing the CF-18s [more here]. The planes were bought in 1982…

Industry sources say they believe some senior Liberals still hope to revive the Super Hornet sole-source purchase in the near future [see “Cabinet Committee to Take Sting out of Sole-Sourcing RCAF Super Hornets? CF-18 Life Extension?“–that “capability gap” is mentioned at the latter part of the post].

Sajjan has said the Canadian military is facing a “capability gap” since the CF-18 fleet can’t handle the country’s commitments to NATO and the North American Aerospace Defence Command’s needs to protect the continent.

“Between our NORAD and NATO commitments and how many jets are serviceable at one time, we cannot meet both those requirements simultaneously,” he said in July…

As for actually acquiring a new plane…

New RCAF Fighter: Consult, Consult, Consult (with industry)–Why Not Just Compete?

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

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