Minister of National Defence’s statement in response to the Auditor General of Canada’s report on Canada’s fighter force

News release

November 20, 2018 – Ottawa (Ontario) – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Following the tabling of the Auditor General of Canada’s report on Canada’s fighter force, the Minister of National Defence, Harjit S. Sajjan, issued the following statement:

"As articulated in the Strong, Secure, Engaged defence policy, our Government is committed to providing the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) with the investments and equipment it needs to carry out the missions we ask of them.  

I welcome the Auditor General’s report on our fighter force. It affirms what I have said consistently – that despite their tireless efforts, the RCAF needs more to meet both its NORAD and NATO commitments without risk-managing one or the other.

The Government of Canada takes these findings extremely seriously. We are taking several steps to address both the Auditor General’s recommendations, and our broader concerns around the fighter force:

  • We will launch new efforts to recruit and retain pilots and technicians. Some initiatives – including the Fighter Capability Renewal Initiative, which will make use of contracted second-line maintenance to return over 200 technicians to front-line squadrons – are already underway. Others will be implemented by fall 2019.
  • We are upgrading the CF-18s to meet regulatory and interoperability requirements, and ensure they can operate within North American and international airspace past 2025.
  • The RCAF is assessing necessary combat systems upgrades for the CF-18 fleet that could be implemented to address evolving threats.
  • We have signed an agreement to purchase 18 Australian F-18 aircraft, with spare parts, to help mitigate the transition to the future fighter aircraft. 
  • As affirmed in Strong, Secure, Engaged, we are proceeding with the procurement of 88 advanced fighters to provide the RCAF with the right quantity and quality of aircraft to meet Canada’s airpower needs for multiple decades.

I want to be clear with Canadians that an enduring solution to the CAF’s fighter capability will not be achieved until we have both procured a future fighter and increased the number of skilled and experienced technicians and pilots that will allow the RCAF to generate sufficient numbers of mission-ready aircraft. While there is tremendous attention being paid to these efforts, it will take time to realize the full results of our current and future personnel initiatives alone – a timeline that, by design, coincides with the expected arrival of the future fighter.

In the meantime, Canadians can rest assured that – thanks to the incredible efforts of our RCAF aviators – our CF-18s will continue to capably conduct missions in defence of Canadian airspace until the future fighter is fully operational.” 

Associated links


Byrne Furlong
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-3100

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-2353

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