In the Globe & Mail, Steven Chase on the Canadian government’s uncomfortable position on the RCAF’s next generation fighter aircraft:
The Canadian government is investigating whether it can squeeze more life out of its aging CF-18 fighters as it takes stock of decisions by cash-strapped allies to delay or trim orders for the replacement F-35 Lightning jet.
The Harper government must now decide whether there’s a benefit to postponing part of Canada’s order of 65 jets so that its Lightning fighter bombers are built in the same years as the bulk of orders placed by other countries — when the production cost is lower.
[. . .]
The Canadian government had planned to start taking delivery of new F-35 fighter bombers in 2016 or 2017 and has publicly described 2020 as the retirement date for most of its fleet of CF-18 Hornets.
A government official with knowledge of the file said the military is now assessing whether 2020 is the absolute maximum life expectancy for the Hornets or whether there’s a little bit more flying time left in the jets — planes purchased between 1984 and 1988.
Canada has already retrofitted the CF-18s in order to make them last until 2020.