Calgary-based aerospace company awarded $211M contract to continue maintenance on aging CF-18 fleet

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Calgary-based Arcfield Canada Corp. has been awarded a $211.6-million contract by Canada’s Department of National Defence, allowing it to continue providing maintenance for the country’s CF-18 fighter fleet.

The five-year contract will take Arcfield and partnered companies to 2029 — three years before the fleet is expected to retire.

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For more than 30 years, Arcfield Canada has been the prime contractor for the CF-18 Avionics Optimized Weapon System Support program.

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“Our proven track record in delivering operational readiness and industry-leading sustainment solutions, and the collective expertise of our team members, offers unparalleled support in maintaining fleet availability and ensure mission readiness of Canada’s CF-18 fleet until the aircraft’s anticipated retirement,” said Jacques Comtois, vice-president of operations at Arcfield Canada.

The aging CF-188 Hornet, better known as the CF-18, is slated to phase out in 2032, which will mark about 50 years since the aircraft became the country’s primary fighter jet.

A Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet comes in for a landing at CFB Bagotville, Quebec in 2018. Photo by GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images/File

Last January, the federal government ended a decade-long debate over how Canada would procure its next generation of fighter jets with a $19-billion deal to buy 88 Lockheed Martin F35 jets.

The first four aircraft are expected to arrive in 2026, with the rest coming in 2032. The total program, which will cover maintenance over the life span of the aircraft, is projected to cost around $73 billion, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. The acquisition cost is estimated to be around $19.8 billion, along with $2.1 billion for weapons and ammunition.

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When the purchase of the F-35s were announced, then-defence minister Anita Anand said the CF-18s’ phaseout will enable a “smooth transition” to the new aircraft.

Some of the new jets will eventually be based out of 4 Wing Cold Lake in northern Alberta, an existing fighter facility. A contract was awarded several years ago to outfit the base with new hangars and equipment, including simulators. The other jets will be based out of 3 Wing Bagotville in Quebec.

Arcfield defence contract
(L-R) MP George Chahal gets a tour from Arcfield Senior Operations Manager, Greg Nelson, after a special announcement ceremony at Arcfield Canada Corp. who have been awarded a $211-million defence contract in Calgary on Thursday, March 7, 2024. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Arcfield announced last May it was partnering with four Canadian defence, aerospace and technology companies — Raytheon Canada, L3Harris Technologies, Palitronica and Terra Nova — to provide a suite of maintenance and engineering services for the country’s CF-18 fleet.

The partnership, called Team Northern Sentry, was established to meet “the challenges of ensuring mission success for Canada’s CF-18 fleet to the end of the aircraft’s 2032 phaseout.”

At the time, Arcfield said the team’s combined expertise would allow Canada to meet its domestic needs while supporting its North Atlantic Treaty Organization and North American Aerospace Defence Command commitments.

The new contract will continue Team Northern Sentry’s services to support maintenance of the CF-18 fleet.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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