First Interim Fighter Jets Arrive in Cold Lake

News release

February 17, 2019 – Cold Lake (Alberta) – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Through Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure Engaged, the Government of Canada is ensuring we have the mission ready aircraft we need to meet our domestic and international obligations in advance of the arrival of jets to replace the entire CF-18 fleet.

Today, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) marked the arrival of the first two interim fighter aircraft, an important milestone and investment in sustaining our current CF-18 Hornet fleet.

Canada is procuring 18 fighter aircraft and parts from the Government of Australia to rapidly increase availability of the CF-18 fleet in order to ensure the RCAF can meet all obligations simultaneously.

These aircraft are the same type as Canada’s current CF-18 fleet and can be integrated quickly into our fleet. Modifications and technical work will begin immediately so they can be brought to a similar configuration to Canada’s CF-18 aircraft. The work will continue to be done by Canadian companies.

Deliveries will continue at regular intervals for the next three years, and aircraft will be integrated into the CF-18 fleet as modifications are completed. The final aircraft are expected to arrive by the end of 2021.


“The interim fighter fleet is key to ensuring the Royal Canadian Air Force can continue to fulfill their missions and ensure the safety of Canadians and Canada. We are familiar with these aircraft and are confident that they can provide the additional support our current fleet requires. They were flown in yesterday by the Royal Australian Air Force and I look forward to seeing them fly again soon in our Canadian colours.”

Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister

“The arrival of these aircraft will support our women and men in uniform to fulfill their missions and meet Canada’s international obligations. As part of the procurement, we will make the necessary investments in these aircraft to ensure they meet the requirements of the Royal Canadian Air Force.”

Carla Qualtrough, Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility Minister

Quick facts

  • These first two aircraft are the F/A-18A model, which means they are single seat aircraft.

  • The aircraft were flown to Cold Lake, Alberta, from Nellis, Nevada, where they were participating in Exercise RED FLAG.

  • Modifications and maintenance of the current CF-18 fleet will continue to be required until the RCAF transitions to a future fighter. A review of combat capability improvements is currently underway.

  • As outlined in Strong, Secure, Engaged, energized retention and recruitment efforts are underway to ensure the RCAF achieves the right number and experience levels of pilots and technicians.

  • The aircraft will be employed at 3 Wing Bagotville and 4 Wing Cold Lake. 

  • Canada continues to make progress toward replacing its fighter fleet. The formal request for proposals for the future fighter fleet is expected to be released in spring 2019, with a contract award in 2021-22 and deliveries to begin in 2025.

Associated links


Renée Filiatrault
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of National Defence

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

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