Canada Boeing CF-18s to get life extensions

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Canada has launched a 10-year, C$1.2 billion ($780 million) upgrade to extend the life of its Boeing CF-18s by 14 years.

The programme includes the possible sale of 22 or more of the Canadian Force's fleet of 122CF-18s to help pay for the upgrade, which will enable the aircraft to remain operational to the year 2017. Canada acquired 138 CF-18s between 1982 and 1988 for C$5.2 billion, but accidents have reduced the fleet to 122 aircraft.

The first part of the modernisation programme calls for the installation of C$66 million worth of new mission computers and software. Another C$14 million will be spent to install jam-resistant radios.

Ten other major upgrades are on the drawing board, including installation of the Raytheon APG-73 radar, in place of the APG-65, for about C$500 million.

The modernisation programme is in addition to a major overhaul of the CF-18 fuselage bulkheads, which in June were discovered to have cracks earlier than forecast.