CF-188 Hornet


CF-188 Hornet



The multi-role CF-188 Hornet (CF-18 as it is commonly known) is a versatile and combat- proven fighter aircraft. Able to carry a multitude of weapons in various configurations, the Hornet can engage both ground and aerial targets on the same mission. Its twin engines generate 32 000 pounds of thrust, and the Hornet is capable of supersonic flight and operating day or night in all weather conditions.

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.

Due to 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 1991 Gulf War when 24 CF-18s were sent 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.

Canada’s fighter force is committed to protecting North America from future threats through the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). This includes Operation Noble Eagle, NORAD’s mission to safeguard North American skies against asymmetrical attacks (such as those that occurred on September 11), and by defending against air threats from outside the continent. Through NORAD, CF-18s maintain a constant state of alert, ready to respond immediately to potential threats to continental aerospace security.

CF-18s were heard over the skies of British Columbia during Operation (Op) PODIUM, where they provided around-the-clock support to the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games through NORAD. In 2011, they played a vital role during Op MOBILE, as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (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 (about ten percent of NATO strike sorties) and dropping 696 bombs of various types to engage military assets threatening the civilian population.

In 2014, six CF-18s deployed on Op IMPACT as part of the coalition targeting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria. Conducting a variety of missions, the CF-18s conducted 1,378 sorties between October 2014 and February 2016, of which 251 included airstrikes (606 munitions) on various ISIL targets.

In 2014, CF-18s conducted airborne patrols in Europe alongside our NATO partners, building confidence in Europe’s stability and security through Op REASSURANCE.

The CF-18 underwent a two-phase modernization program beginning in 2004, a comprehensive mid-life upgrade to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces have a modern and interoperable fighter fleet.  

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 superior power and speed, and its exceptional 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 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: 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 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

77 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.



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