The competition to replace the CF-18s — a smaller, lighter version of the more modern and heavily-armed Super Hornet — will now reopen.
Canada might buy F-35s around 2025 or they could buy more Super Hornets and their advanced sensors.
The Boeing F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet are twin-engine carrier-capable multirole fighter aircraft variants based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The F/A-18E single-seat and F/A-18F tandem-seat variants are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet. The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm M61 rotary cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. Additional fuel can be carried in up to five external fuel tanks and the aircraft can be configured as an airborne tanker by adding an external air refueling system.
Survivability is an important feature of the Super Hornet design. The U.S. Navy took a “balanced approach” to survivability in its design. This means that it does not rely on very low-observable technology, i.e. stealth. Instead, its design incorporates a combination of signature reduction, advanced electronic-warfare capabilities, reduced ballistic vulnerability, the use of standoff weapons, and innovative tactics that collectively enhance the safety of the fighter and crew in an affordable manner.
The F/A-18E/F’s radar cross-section was reduced greatly from some aspects, mainly the front and rear. The design of the engine inlets reduces the aircraft’s frontal radar cross-section. The alignment of the leading edges of the engine inlets is designed to scatter radiation to the sides. Fixed fanlike reflecting structures in the inlet tunnel divert radar energy away from the rotating fan blades.
The Super Hornet employs reportedly the most extensive radar cross section reduction measures of any contemporary fighter, other than the F-22 and F-35 as of 2004. While the F/A-18E/F is not a stealth fighter like the F-22, it will have a frontal radar cross-section an order of magnitude smaller than prior generation fighters.
In September 2013, Boeing provided Canada with cost and capability data for its Advanced F/A-18 Super Hornet, suggesting that a fleet of 65 aircraft would cost $1.7 billion less than a fleet of F-35s. The Advanced Super Hornet builds upon the existing Super Hornet. The U.S. Navy buys Super Hornets for $52 million per aircraft, while the advanced version would cost $6–$10 million more per aircraft, depending on options selected.
Maximum speed: Mach 1.8 (1,190 mph, 1,915 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
Range: 1,275 nmi (2,346 km) clean plus two AIM-9s
Combat radius: 390 nmi (449 mi, 722 km) for interdiction mission
Ferry range: 1,800 nmi (2,070 mi, 3,330 km)
Service ceiling: 50,000+ ft (15,000+ m)
Rate of climb: 44,882 ft/min (228 m/s)