CF-188 Hornet


CF-188 Hornet



A versatile, world-class fighter aircraft, the supersonic CF-188 Hornet, or CF-18 as it is popularly known, 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-18 is used for air defence, air superiority, tactical support, training, aerobatic demonstration, and aerospace testing and evaluation.

The CF-18 has recently been put through a two-phase modernization program, a comprehensive mid-life upgrade to ensure that the Canadian Forces have a modern and interoperable fighter fleet.  

Phase I of the Incremental Modernization Project was completed in 2006. This first phase of the CF-18 modernization project included among others, the procurement and installation of a new radar, jam-resistant radios, mission computers and embedded global positioning systems.

Phase II of the Incremental Modernization Project, which was finished in 2010, included the installation and integration of a tactical data link system, helmet cueing system, colour displays, upgraded countermeasures dispensers, and a triple-deck cockpit video recorder, among outfitting the CF-18s with other technologically advanced equipment.

In addition to the two modernization phases for CF-18 aircraft, other CF-18 projects are either completed or ongoing to align the CF-18 aircraft with a fully integrated air capability thus increasing Air Force interoperability with our allies as well as our ability to respond to threats to North America.

Because of its superior power and speed, and its exceptional tracking capabilities, the CF-18 has had great success in many military operations in Canada and around the world.

Canada's first operational deployment of the CF-18 took place during the Gulf War, when Canada sent 24 CF-18s to Qatar to participate in the American-led Desert Shield and Desert Storm campaigns. Similarly, Canada deployed 18 CF-18s to Italy to take part in the Kosovo campaign in 1999.

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, Canada’s fighter force is committed to protecting North America from future threats. As part of Operation Noble Eagle, NORAD’s mission to safeguard North American skies, CF-18s maintain a constant state of alert, ready to respond immediately to potential threats to continental security.

CF-18s were heard over the skies of British Columbia, where they provided around the clock support to the 2010 Olympic Games. In 2011, they played a vital role during Op Mobile, as part of a NATO-led effort to enforce an arms embargo and no-fly zone to protect civilians in Libya in support of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973. Seven CF-18s made up Task Force Libeccio, conducting 946 sorties, ten percent of NATO strike sorties, and dropping 696 bombs of various types to engage military assets threatening the civilian population.

Today, working alongside our American partners, we have crews ready to deploy on behalf of NORAD to protect North American airspace. In 2014 in Europe, our CF-18s are patrolling the skies alongside our NATO partners, building confidence in Europe’s stability and security through Op REASSURANCE.

With an ongoing modernization of the fleet, our CF-18s will remain viable into the middle of the next decade when Canada’s next generation fighter capability becomes operational.

Our RCAF personnel and aircraft have proven that they can fight alongside our Allies -- they are battle hardened, and the capabilities of our CF-18s today certainly enable them to effectively serve alongside fighter aircraft being flown by Allies in the fight against ISIL.

Technical Specifications

Technical Specifications

Aircraft Description

The CF-188 is a multipurpose, high-performance twin-engine fighter that can handle both air-to-air (air defence, air superiority, combat air patrol) and air-to-ground (close air support, battlefield air interdiction) combat. Its on-board computer systems can quickly be re-programmed to the mission at hand.

(Note: The CF-188 is officially designated the “CF188” in Canadian use, although mainly in official or technical documentation.)

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

  • a sidewards-aimed searchlight beneath the fuselage 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 combat manoeuvres






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: AIM 9M IR 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, GBU 31 and 38 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

77 modernized aircraft


3 Wing Bagotville, QC
4 Wing Cold Lake, AB



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