The Minister’s announcement comes after Canadian officials overnight confirmed they would not be proceeding with a planned purchase of 18 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets from Boeing, and would instead agree to a letter of offer from Australia for the classic Hornets.
Canada operates a fleet of about 80 CF-18 classic Hornets, and will likely be looking to supplement that fleet with a mix of flyable airframes and spares holdings from the RAAF to extend the CF-18’s life of type until it makes a decision on a permanent replacement air combat capability in 2019.
“Australia greatly values our longstanding and broad bilateral defence relationship with Canada, and this decision is another example of our close and strong partnership,” Minister Payne said. “The aircraft will supplement Canada’s existing fleet as it develops and implements its plan to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force fighter jet fleet. “
Minister Payne said the first two aircraft would be handed over in early 2019, “subject to final negotiations and Country of Origin export approvals.”
But the transfer of all 18 aircraft is likely to be drawn out over a longer period due to Australia’s need to maintain a viable air combat capability until the F-35 achieves initial operating capability with 3SQN in 2020/21.