The RCAF has officially taken delivery of the first of 25 F/A-18 Classic Hornet aircraft as part of a $500 million overall sale commitment confirmed by the governments of Australia and Canada earlier this year.
Under a deal between the governments, the two Hornets are the first of up to 25 aircraft that will be sold to Canada along with spares and support equipment.
Minister Pyne highlighted the mutual benefits of this sale to both Australia and Canada.
"Australia and Canada have a longstanding defence relationship and this sale is an excellent example of our mutual commitment towards supporting our respective defence capabilities," he said.
The deal covers $90 million for the purchase of the aircraft themselves, with an extra $410 million to be used to cover additional spare parts, outfitting of the jets with specific Canadian equipment, contingency funds, salaries for personnel involved with the project, upgrades to communications equipment, as well as new infrastructure to accommodate the aircraft.
Minister for Defence Industry Steven Ciobo thanked members of Australia's defence industry for their significant involvement in the planning and preparation of the transfer of these aircraft.
"This deal is an example of the great strides the government is taking to create an Australian defence industry which is globally competitive, innovative and export focused. The government is working with industry to maximise opportunities for Australian companies both here and abroad to build a stronger defence industry," Minister Ciobo added.
Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said at the time of the agreement that the extra jets are needed to deal with a "capability gap", arguing that the country does not have enough fighters to handle its commitments to NATO as well as protecting North America.
The sale is due to Canada cancelling plans to purchase 18 new Super Hornets from the US, after Quebec-based company Bombardier was hit with an enormous tariff to sell its aircraft in the US.
The F/A-18A (single seat) and F/A-18B (twin seat) Hornets are multi-role fighter aircraft, capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. The Hornet was originally developed for the US Navy and Marine Corps, and has been a very successful aircraft. It is also used by Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain and Switzerland.
The F/A-18A and F/A-18B Hornets can undertake:
- Air interception;
- Air combat;
- Close air support of ground troops; and
- Interception of enemy supply lines, including shipping.
Australia's fleet of Classic Hornet aircraft has undergone a major electronic upgrade to ensure effective operations for the next 10 years. The Air Force's 71 F/A-18A/B Hornets will be replaced with 72 advanced F-35A Lightning II aircraft from 2018.