The upgrade will add a data link system, a helmet-mounted sight system, new cockpit displays and a new flare-dispensing electronic warfare system to the Hornets. Two additional aircraft will be modified for the essential validation and verification of the planned upgrade.
The goal of the eight-year, two-phased project which began in April 2001, is to bring the Canadian Air Force fleet of CF-18 Hornets into full interoperability with the equipment of its allies and extend the life of the aircraft through to 2017.
The project includes modernising specifications of newer models through an avionics configuration upgrade program. This approach allows the Canadian forces uninterrupted access to and use of the CF-18 fleet.
Phase 1 equipped the CF-18s with improved communication and navigation capabilities, including new mission computers and radios for communications purposes, an APG-73 radar system that is compatible with NATO-ally air forces, and a combined interrogator/transponder system that ensures allies recognise Canadian CF-18 aircraft as “friendlies.”