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Australian F 18 fighter jets destined for 4 Wing Cold Lake to supplement Canada aging CF 18 fighter fleet will require upgrades to their ejection seats and external aircraft lighting before they can take to the skies with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Additionally the 18 Hornets, which first entered service in Australia in the late 1980s, will undergo aircraft structure modifications to address known fatigue issues similar to a program that was implemented to remedy similar issues with the CF 18s.

Canada CF 18 numbers have dropped by more than half to 76 aircraft from a peak of 138 but the Liberal government in June last year announced plans to buy 88 new fighter aircraft in a project that could cost as much as $19 billion.

Two Royal Australian Air Force FA 18 Hornets.

The Australian jets are required as a stop gap measure because of the timing between receiving the new planes and retirement of the older planes.

The CF 18s have most recently been used as part of Operation Reassurance in eastern Europe. They were also deployed as part of the Middle East Stabilization Force in Iraq and Syria where they conducted 1,378 sorties and were involved in 251 airstrikes on ISIL targets.

aircraft will be retired when either their safe structural life has expired or they are no longer required given the delivery of the permanent fleet,
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said Department of National Defence spokesperson Jessica Lamirande.

is anticipated that the supplemental aircraft will be in service for several years, sufficient to ensure the capability gap is filled until the transition to the permanent CF 18 replacement that commences in the second half of the 2020s is complete.

Postmedia has previously reported that the CF 18s had been scheduled to be removed from service around 2025 but that timeline has been extended to 2032.

As negotiation between Australian and Canadian governments are ongoing, exact details of the deal and how much it will cost to modify the Hornets have yet to be finalized, she said.

Defence officials are still reviewing infrastructure and personnel requirements required to accommodate additional aircraft to Canada busiest fighter base in northern Alberta,
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Lamirande said.