Canada's Department of National Defence (DND) expects to have a contract signed by the end of February with Boeing for a major avionics upgrade of 80 CF-18 fighters.


Although Boeing will be prime contractor, the installation work will be performed at Bombardier's Mirabel facility north of Montreal, where the Canadian Forces' CF-18s have received heavy maintenance since service entry.

Government funding of C$1.1 billion ($726 million) was approved in August for the project, known as Engineering Change Proposal 583. It includes support during the upgrade period plus two years.

The upgrade includes the installation of Have Quick secure radios, Raytheon APG-73 radar, combined interrogator/transponders and a stores management system upgrade. Integration and installation of mission computers, software and GPS satellite navigation systems are also involved.

While the DND has 122 CF-18s, 42 aircraft have been declared surplus and will either be used for parts, sold as parts to other F/A-18 users or sold in their entirety to other air forces. A number of F/A-18 operators are known to be seeking further aircraft following the closure of the Boeing line in St Louis when it switched to F/A-18E/F production.

The original life expectancy of the aircraft, purchased in 1980, was 2003. By implementing fatigue life management, involving a controlled rotation cycle, life expectancy has been extended to 2010. That date may be pushed to beyond 2017 through a structural test and repair programme or through the US Navy's mid-fuselage upgrade programme.

Source: Flight International