The Australian Department of Defense has confirmed an agreement with Canada for the sale of 25 of the Royal Australian Air Force’ (RAAF) second-hand stock of Boeing F/A-18 A/B “Classic” Hornet jet fighters. The total cost of the aircraft, plus spare parts and excess equipment to Canada comes to AUD95 million ($68 million) according to Australian defense officials. Transfer of the aircraft will occur over the coming three years.
The deal has been in the works for a while now, with the U.S. government approving third-party transfer to Canada back in September. Canada plans to acquire 18 fighters for operational use with the Royal Canadian Air Force with the remaining seven cannibalized for spare parts or used for testing purposes.
The units in question were originally ordered by Australia in 1981, which at the time awarded a contract for 75 units, with 57 being single-seat A variants and the remainder B-type two-seaters.
Though 71 of these remain operational with the RAAF the service plans to phase them out as the new F-35A fighters come online.
Canada, on the other hand, faces diminishing fighter capability and capacity due to a long-delayed effort to acquire 88 modern combat aircraft to replace the RCAF’s current Hornet fleet. Ottawa plans on acquiring these in order for deliveries to run from 2025 through 2030, but has continually kicked the proverbial procurement can down the road for years.
The Hornets acquired from Australia will lack the structural upgrades the RCAF fleet is due to receive, which may inhibit their service lives. Should Canada continue to fumble the fighter acquisition issue the RCAF may look to put these through an upgrade in order to extend their operational usefulness and bridge yet another looming capability gap.