Boeing Leads Phase 2 Upgrade of 79 CF-18 Fighters
Out of its original purchase of 138 aircraft (98 single-seat CF18A and 40 dual-seat CF18B), Canada retains an operational fleet of 60 CF-18s, plus an additional 25 CF-18Bs in service with 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron to train its fighter pilots.
In June 2006, Canada’s Department of National Defense began an arrangement with Boeing for the second and final phase the CF-18 Modernization Project. The upgrade will add a Link 16 system, a helmet-mounted sight, new cockpit displays and a new flare-dispensing electronic warfare system to 78 CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft. Two additional aircraft were to be modified for the essential validation and verification of the planned upgrade, bringing the total to 80. The program delivered its 79th, and final, CF-18AM/BM aircraft in March 2010.
The CF-18 Upgrade Program, Phases 1 & 2
The goal of the 8-year, 2-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 key allies and extend the life of the aircraft through 2017. See “The CF18 Incremental Modernization Program – In Detail” from Canadian defense think tank CASR for more information.
Overall, Canada’s DND places the cost of the complete modernization program at around CDN $2.6 billion. Phase 1 contracts to Boeing were valued at USD$ 436 million, and Phase 2 at USD$ 150 million.
Boeing Logistics Support Systems delivered Phase 1 of the program on time and on budget. That phase 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, a stores management system for weapon-system and associated-equipment control, and an up-to-date IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) interrogator/transponder system.
Phase 2 added Link 16 capability, the JHMCS helmet-mounted sight system, a targeting and surveillance pod, new cockpit displays, and a new flare-dispensing electronic warfare system. In the end, Boeing designed the upgrades and completed 2 prototype aircraft. They also provided program management services, installation kits and color displays. L-3 Electronic Systems, with locations in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Toronto, developed and produced the upgraded crew station displays. L-3 Communications MAS installed the upgrades on the program’s remaining 77 aircraft – 1 less than the original plan.
Boeing Canada was mentioned in Canada’s industrial National Aerospace and Defence Strategic Framework. The firm contributes approximately $1 billion Canadian annually to the Canadian economy and directly employs more than 1,000 Canadians.
In addition to the 2 modernization phases for CF-18 aircraft, other related CF-18 projects include: new air combat maneuvering instrumentation for the weapons ranges; a night vision capability; new networked air combat simulators; advanced precision guided weapons; a new defensive electronic warfare system; and a new satellite communication system.
Lockheed Martin’s Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod turns any fighter into a reconnaissance aircraft with its long range day/night cameras, and adds combat capabilities like independent laser rangefinding and targeting for bombs like the laser-guided Paveway, and GPS geolocation for bombs like Paveway Plus, JDAM, etc. Inability to use precision weapons has hampered Canadian CF-18s in the past, including Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and Bosnia in 1999. Adding the Sniper pod should remedy that. It is a related stand-alone program under the overall CF-18 modernization effort.
Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems take the revolutionary head-up display and move it to a helmet, keeping key information in front of the pilot at all times. JHMCS helmets also allow new tricks, like matching the wider “boresight cones” of new air-to-air missiles by turning one’s head to acquire and confirm lock-on. Several F/A-18 operators use these systems: Australia, Canada, Finland, Switzerland, and the US Navy/ Marines.
Jam-resistant Link-16 radios automatically exchange battlefield information – particularly locations of friendly and enemy aircraft, ships and ground forces – among themselves in a long-range, line-of-sight network. For example, air surveillance tracking data from an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft can be instantly shared with fighter aircraft and air defense units. They are essential for smooth operations with allies. The standard installation vehicle is the MIDS-LVT (Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminal).
Raytheon’s AN/ALR-67v3 is a radar warning receiver that provides visual and audio alerts to F/A-18 aircrew when it detects ground-based, ship-based, or airborne radar emitters. It’s designed to provide accurate identification, azimuth displays, and threat levels for hostile and friendly emitters. It has become the modern standard for F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet aircraft, and has been incorporated into a number of earlier model Hornets flown around the world.
Finally, color matters. Color displays can convey far, far more information than black and white displays. This is critical to keeping pilot workload manageable as new capabilities are added, and offers strong survival benefits as well since the most obvious use of color is to highlight threats. The CF-18’s new multi-purpose displays were developed as a cooperative project between Canada and Australia, who were both in the midst of F/A-18 A/B fleet upgrades. Boeing sub-contracted the development and production of these new color displays to L3 Communications Electronic Systems (ES) facility in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Contracts and Key Events
Because these are foreign military sales, American organizations formally manage the contracts. Note that these may not be all of the contracts associated with the program; they are simply all of the contracts that have been publicly announced.
May 12/11: General Electric Aircraft Engines Business Group in Lynn, MA receives a $9.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 1 spare F414-GE-400 engine; 8 combustion modules, 7 fan modules, and 1 high pressure turbine module.
Work will be performed in Lynn, MA (51.8%); Madisonville, KY (20.9%); Hooksett, NH (12%); Rutland, VT (4.6%); Dayton, OH (2.5%); Jacksonville, FL (1.8%); Muskegon, MI. (1.6%); Terre Haute, IN (1.6%); Bromont, QB, Canada (1.4%); Asheville, NC. (1.2%); and Evandale, OH ( 0.6%), and is expected to be complete in December 2012. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-06-C-0088).
April 21/11: Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in Goleta, CA receives an $84.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 87 Full Rate Production Lot 13 AN/ALR-67v3 radar warning receivers for the U.S. Navy (77/ $72.1M/ 85%) and the government of Switzerland (10/ $9.4M/ 11%). In addition, this option provides for the procurement of ALR-67 weapons replaceable assemblies for the governments of Canada ($2.5M/ 3%) and Australia ($762,842/ 1%).
The AN/ALR-67v3 is the standard RWR system for Super Hornet family fighters, and also equips some F/A-18 Hornets – Canada and Switzerland both operate earlier-generation F/A-18 Hornets, and Australia operates both Hornets and Super Hornets. This Radar Warning Receiver is more like mission central for defensive systems. It doesn’t just alert the pilot(s) that enemy radars are targeting their fighter; it provide accurate identification, lethality, and azimuth displays of both hostile and friendly emitters. In its spare time, it controls the electronic warfare data bus, and interfaces with electronic warfare systems, the onboard radar, the airborne mission computer, and the F/A-18 weapon systems. It’s the first deployed radar warning receiver to combine a fully channelized digital receiver architecture with the power of dual processors.
Work will be performed in Goleta, CA (41%); Lansdale, PA (18%); Forest, MS (12%); Chatsworth, CA (11%); San Diego, CA (10%); Sydney, Australia (4%); Milwaukie, OR (2%); and McKinney, TX (2%). Work is expected to be complete in December 2013. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract. See also Raytheon release.
March 25/10: Boeing and its partner L-3 Communications MAS deliver the 79th and final CF-18 Phase 2 upgrade aircraft to the Canadian Forces.
During the project, Boeing worked with more than 25 Canadian suppliers and organizations through direct and indirect work packages. All technical program milestones were completed on schedule and within budget, while industrial and regional benefits commitments were completed early. Canada DND: Backgrounder and Release | Boeing release.
July 20/09: Vision Systems International, LLC in San Jose, CA received a $17.3 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract to provide Fast Characterization Tool (FACT) hardware, integration, and validation and software upgrades for the F/A-18 JHMCS systems used by the U.S. Navy ($11 million, 58%) and the Governments of Australia ($2.8 million, 15%), Canada ($1.2 million, 9%), Finland ($1.2 million, 9%), and Switzerland ($1.2 million, 9%).
Work will be performed in San Jose, CA and is expected to be complete in October 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $8 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ (N68335-09-D-0106).
Feb 27/09: L-3 MAS announces [PDF] the successful completion of the CF-18 Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS) program. “The NVIS program was launched by the Department of National Defence (DND) as a separate element of the CF-18 Fighter Modernization program to develop, integrate, test and implement a new aircraft lighting environment for a wide spectrum of CF-18 flight operations, including ensuring compatibility with the pilots’ Night Vision Goggles.”
The program started with a prototype phase, then transitioned into a fleet production phase in late 2006. In total, 79 aircraft were modified, the last of which left L-3 MAS’ Mirabel, QB facility this month
May 1/09: Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in Goleta, CA received an $83.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for LOT 11 full-rate-production of 94 AN/ALR-67v3 Radar Warning Receiver defensive systems that equip F/A-18 Hornet family aircraft. Customer include the U.S. Navy (43 for $35.8 million; 43%) and the Governments of Canada, (26 for $22.3 million; 27%), Australia (19 for $13.4 million; 16%), and Switzerland (5 for $12.1 million; 14%), including supplies and services.
Work will be performed in Goleta, CA (41%); Lansdale, PA (18%); Forest, MS (12%); Chatsworth, CA (11%); San Diego, CA (10%); Sydney, Australia, (4%); Milwaukie, OR (2%); and McKinney, TX (2%), and is expected to be complete in February 2012. This contract was not competitively procured by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD, as Raytheon is the sole manufacturer of these systems (N00019-09-C-0052).
This contract brings Canadian orders to 64 radar warning receiver sets.
April 3/09: Small business qualifier Tech Resources, Inc. in Milford, NH received a $5.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for 16 AN/ALR-67(V)3 antenna coupler interconnecting groups, for the upgraded F/A-18+ Hornet fighters flown by the Royal Australian Air Force and for the government of Canada. Purchases are divided 50/50, at $2.945 million each.
This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to the FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD issued the contract (N68335-09-C-0133).
Feb 27/09: Raytheon Co., Electronic Warfare Operations in Goleta, CA received a $9.9 million cost plus fixed fee contract for products and engineering services in support of the AN/ALR-67v3 operational flight programs for US Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets ($5.4 million, 55%) and the F/A-18 A-D and E/F aircraft owned by the Governments of Canada ($1.5 million, 15%), Australia ($1.5 million, 15%), and Switzerland ($1.5 million, 15%). The estimated level of effort for this contract is 57,686 man-hours.
Work will be performed Goleta, CA (80%) and Point Mugu, CA (10%); and China Lake, CA (10%), and is expected to be complete in February 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $1.15 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, CA (N68936-09-C-0029).
Aug 22/08: Raytheon Co. in Goleta, CA received a $13.7 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0008) for 174 AN/ALR-67v3 Enhanced Integrated Antenna Detector Radar Warning Receivers and 173 AN/ALR-67v3 Enhanced Antenna Detector Radar Warning Receiver Systems in support of the Canadian Forces for the F/A-18 A/B aircraft; and 6 Integrated Microwave Integrated Circuits in support of the Swiss Army Armasuisse for its F/A-18 C/D aircraft.
This contract combines purchases for the Government of Canada ($13.6 million; 99%) and the Government of Switzerland, ($114,526; 1%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Lansdale, PA (75%) and El Segundo, CA (25%), and is expected to be complete in March 2011.
March 27/08: Raytheon Co. Electronics Systems in Goleta, CA received an $11.7 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-04-C-0123), exercising an option for the full-rate-production of 14 Lot 10 AN/ALR-67v3 Radar Warning Receivers to support F/A-18 legacy aircraft programs for the Canadian Air Force (13, $10.8 million; 92%) and the Swiss Air Force (1, $834,426; 7%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program.
Work will be performed in Forest, MS (46%); Goleta, CA (14%); Lansdale, PA (10%); Brisbane, Australia (9%); Chatsworth, CA (7%); El Segundo, CA (7%); McKinney, TX (4%); and Portland, OR (3%), and is expected to be complete in June 2011.
Dec 6/07: Raytheon Co., Electronics Systems in Goleta, CA received a $51.9 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-04-C-0123), exercising an option for the full-rate-production of 53 Lot 10 AN/ALR-67v3 Radar Warning Receivers for the U.S. Navy (24, $25.7 million; 49.55%); Canadian Air Force (25, $22.7 million; 43.85%); and the Finnish Air Force (4, $3.4 million; 6.6%), including spare weapon replaceable assemblies for the U.S. Navy.
Work will be performed in Forest, MS (46%); Goleta, CA (14%); Lansdale, PA (10%); Brisbane, Australia (9%); Chatsworth, CA (7%); El Segundo, CA (7%); McKinney, TX (4%); and Portland, OR (3%), and is expected to be complete in March 2011.
Aug 3/07: Canada’s formal DSCA request [PDF] involves 59 AN/ALR-67v3 Radar Warning Receivers, 24 AN/ALR-67v3 partial ship-sets, test program sets, adapters, test sets and support equipment, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics support for its own Hornet fleet.
Raytheon Corporation in Waltham, MA (ALR-67) and Boeing Company in St. Louis, MO (F/A-18) are the contractors, and implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 2 contractor representatives to Canada for 1-week intervals twice annually, in order to participate in technical reviews.
The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $209 million. Unusually, there are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
April 4/07: A $68.8 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract for Full Rate Production Lot 4 (FRP 4) of 321 JHMCS systems. The systems will be used on USAF F-15s and F-16s, MACH Brooks, the USN’s F/A-18 platforms, and foreign military sales to Poland (F-16s), Belgium (F-16s), Pakistan (F-16s), Greece (F-16s), Royal Australian Air Force (F/A-18s), Switzerland (F/A-18s), and Canada (F/A-18s). At this time, total funds have been obligated. Work will be complete December 2009 (F33657-01-D-0026/Delivery Order 0058).
Boeing release. See also Rockwell Collins Oct 23/07 release, announcing the sub-contract award from Boeing. Drew Brugal, president of VSI, says that: “With the addition of Belgium and other air forces, VSI now has a total of 19 customers for JHMCS.”
March 20/07: Canadian defense minister Gordon O’Connor announces that Lockheed Martin’s Sniper ATP has won a contract for 36 surveillance and targeting pods to equip Canada’s CF-18 (upgraded F/A-18A and F/A-18B) aircraft. The contract includes spares, support equipment and integrated logistics support until 2020. Lockheed’ Martin’s release adds that the pods will be installed with “no aircraft modifications and no operational limitations.”
The total value of the contract is C$ 126 million (currently about USD$ 109 million), which includes C$ 101 million for the acquisition of 36 AMIRS/Sniper pods and C$ 25 million for in-service support through to 2020. Canada will take delivery of the first pod in the spring of 2007 (i.e. almost immediately), and expects to formally declare initial operational capability by April 2008. Read “Sniper Pods to Equip Canada’s F-18s” for full coverage.
Feb 17/06: A $97 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract for “more than 400” JHMCS systems as Full Rate Production Lot 3. They will equip the USAF’s F-15s and F-16s, the US Navy’s F/A-18 platforms, and foreign military sales including the Netherlands (F-16), Poland (F-16), Turkey (F-16C), the Royal Australian Air Force (F/A-18 C-D under HUG), Canada (F/A-18 A-B+), and Switzerland (F/A-18 C-D). Work will be complete by December 2008 (F33657-01-D-0026).
See also Boeing release | VSI’s related May 17/06 release, which gives a value of “over $80 million” and adds that “VSI also received direct contracts from the United States Navy and Air Force for spares and test equipment in support of the JHMCS program.”
Feb 1/06: L-3 issues a release announcing that its Canadian L-3 MAS subsidiary has received a CDN $39 million (US $34 million) sub-contract from Boeing.
Jan 18/06: Boeing announces a C$ 39 million contract from Canada’s Department of National Defence for installation of the 2nd and final phase the CF-18 Modernization Project. The upgrade will add a Link 16 system, a helmet-mounted sight system, new cockpit displays and a new flare-dispensing electronic warfare system to 78 CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft. Two additional aircraft will be modified for the essential validation and verification of the planned upgrade, bringing the total to 80.
Subsequent Canadian releases eventually put the total value of Boeing’s Phase 2 contract at C$ 172 million, or about $150 million. Boeing release.
- Canada DND – CF-18 Hornet
- Canada DND (March 26/10) – CF-18 Modernization
CASR – The CF18 Hornet fighter aircraft – In Detail. Offers the best single public source re: CF-18 upgrades.