CF-188 Hornet


Fighter Aircraft


CF-188 Hornet



The supersonic CF-188 Hornet, popularly known as the CF-18, can engage both ground and aerial targets. Its twin engines generate enough thrust to lift 24 full-size pick-up trucks off the ground.

As the Royal Canadian Air Force’s frontline multi-role fighter, the modernized CF-188 is used for:

  • air defence
  • air superiority
  • tactical support
  • training
  • aerobatic demonstration
  • aerospace testing and evaluation

The CF-188 went through a phased modernization program to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces have a modern and interoperable fighter fleet.  

Because of its power, speed and target tracking capabilities, the CF-188 has had great success in many military operations at home and abroad.

As a significant contribution to NORAD, Canada’s fighter force is committed to protecting North America from airborne threats. As part of Operation NOBLE EAGLE, our CF-188s maintain a constant state of alert to safeguard North American skies.

In 2014 CF-188s began patrolling European skies alongside our NATO partners to ensure security in the region, in support of Operation REASSURANCE.

Recent Named Operations



 How aircraft was employed

REASSURANCE 2014-Ongoing Lithuania, Iceland, Romania CF-188 Hornets periodically contribute to the NATO - Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities.
IMPACT 2014-2016 Iraq, Syria

Deployed as part of the Canadian Armed Forces’ contribution to the Middle East Stabilization Force (MESF).

Conducted 1,378 sorties between October 2014 and February 2016, delivering 606 munitions from 251 airstrikes on ISIL targets.



Technical Specifications

Technical Specifications

Aircraft Description

The CF-188 Hornet, or CF-18 as it is popularly known, is a multipurpose, high-performance twin-engine fighter that can handle both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat.

The CF-188 Hornet is a frontline multi-role fighter used for air defence, air superiority, ground attack, tactical support, training, aerobatic demonstration, and aerospace testing and evaluation.

Because of its  power, speed, and target tracking capabilities, the CF-188 has had great success in many military operations in Canada and around the world.

Adapted from the American F/A-18, the Canadian version of the jet features:

  • sideward-aimed searchlight for nighttime visual identifications
  • survival equipment adapted to the Canadian environment
  • various cockpit layout modifications
  • a paint scheme incorporating a “spoof” canopy on the underside of the front fuselage, intended to confuse opponents during aerial close combat manoeuvres


17.07 m


12.31 m


4.66 m


10,455 kg


2 General Electric F404 low bypass turbofan engines


Standard: 4,850 kg (10,700 lbs.)
Afterburner: 7,290 kg (16,000 lbs.)

Max. Speed

Mach 1.8

Service Ceiling

15,000 m


3,700 km


Air to Air: Air Intercept Missile (AIM) 9M infrared guided missile, AIM 7 radar guided missile, AIM 120 radar guided missile, 20 mm canon
Air To Ground: Mk 82, Mk 83, Mk 84 , GBU 10, 12, 16 and 24 laser guided bombs, Guided Bomb Unit (GBU) 31, 38 and 49 GPS guided bombs and the 20 mm cannon


1 pilot (CF-188A), 2 pilots (CF-188B)

Year(s) procured

1982 to 1988

Quantity in CF

Initial procurement of 138 aircraft, current fleet is 76 modernized aircraft


3 Wing Bagotville, QC
4 Wing Cold Lake, AB

Did you know? The CF-188’s twin engines generate enough thrust to lift 24 full-size pick-up trucks.



A man wearing a military uniform and a yellow fluorescent vest waves to a grey jet fighter aircraft on the tarmac.

First Interim Fighter Jets Arrive in Cold Lake

On February 17, the Royal Canadian Air Force marked the arrival of the first two interim fighter aircraft from Australia, an important milestone and investment in sustaining our current CF-18 Hornet fleet.
February 18, 2019

Three men wearing olive green or disruptive pattern uniforms stand in a row; with help from the man on the left, the man in the middle holds a large plaque.

Journeyman fighter force technicians graduate

Over the past year, 10 Field Technical Training Squadron has increased its capacity to train fighter force technicians. The most recent graduating class of technicians returned to their home units late last year to work as qualified journeymen on the CF-188 Hornet.
February 4, 2019

A person wearing an orange reflective vest and holding orange light sticks signals to a large gray aircraft on the tarmac.

CC-150 Polaris returns to Canada after participating in Operation Impact

An RCAF CC-150 Polaris air-to-air refuelling aircraft, crew, and support personnel from 437 Transport Squadron returned to Canada from Operation Impact on January 28, 2019.
January 28, 2019

A jet fighter takes off from a runway.

Canada’s Air Task Force completes 2018 deployment in Romania

Canada’s Air Task Force Romania has completed its four-month deployment with NATO’s enhanced Air Policing in Romania.
January 3, 2019

A man wearing a military uniform and a Santa hat, and carrying a large red sack over his shoulder, climbs a ladder towards the cockpit of a fighter aircraft.

Canadian NORAD Region announces Santa’s escort pilots and trackers

With Santa’s big night only a week away, RCAF pilots, technicians and trackers are standing by to help guide him in his journey through Canadian airspace.
December 17, 2018

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