The US DoD has announced a US$140.3m contract has been awarded to Raytheon for the delivery of 36 AN/APG-79(V)4 advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) radars for integration with Royal Canadian Air Force McDonnell Douglas CF-18A Hornets.
Based on the larger APG-79(V)1 AESA fitted to the Boeing F/A-18E/F Block II/III Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, the (V)4 is scaled down for the classic Hornet’s slimmer nose and smaller forward fuselage.
The AESA has fewer moving parts, much greater detection and tracking range, and is less maintenance-intensive than the mechanically scanned AN/APG-73 it will replace, as well as having the ability to lock on to and track multiple targets simultaneously.
A similar radar upgrade is being performed on US Marine Corps F/A-18C/D Hornets to enhance their capabilities until they are replaced by Lockheed Martin F-35B/Cs later this decade.
Canada was the first foreign operator of the F/A-18A/B, taking delivery of its first of 138 jets in 1982. A comprehensive upgrade program in the late 1990s and early 2000s saw 90 of these aircraft upgraded to a standard equivalent to late block build US Navy/USMC F/A-18C/Ds, including the replacement of the original AN/APG-65 radar with the APG-73. The Royal Australian Air Force conducted a similar upgrade on 71 of its F/A-18A/B Hornets, the last of which will be retired at the end of this year.
Due to delays in replacing the CF-18A/B, Canada has taken 25 former RAAF Hornets to augment its fleet pending a replacement entering service in the early 2030s. After pausing its plan to acquire the F-35A as one of the original JSF partner nations in 2017, the replacement program was re-started and re-competed in 2019.
A decision on that replacement – either the F-35A, F/A-18E/F, or Saab JAS-39E/F Gripen – is scheduled to be made in early-2022, with service entry from 2026.