The Royal Canadian Air Force marked the arrival of two used Australian fighter jets with a ceremony on Sunday in Cold Lake, Alta.
Canada is buying 18 used F-18s and parts from Australia to address a shortage of fighter jets between now and 2032, when 88 new fighter aircraft are expected to be in operation.
“These aircraft are the same type as Canada’s current CF-18 fleet and can be integrated quickly into our fleet,” the Department of National Defence said Sunday in a press release.
“Modifications and technical work will begin immediately so they can be brought to a similar configuration to Canada’s CF-18 aircraft,” the department adds. “The work will continue to be done by Canadian companies.”
According to the press release “deliveries will continue at regular intervals for the next three years.”
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the purchase is “key to ensuring the Royal Canadian Air Force can continue to fulfill their missions and ensure the safety of Canadians and Canada.”
“We are familiar with these aircraft and are confident that they can provide the additional support our current fleet requires,” he added. “They were flown in yesterday by the Royal Australian Air Force and I look forward to seeing them fly again soon in our Canadian colours.”
Former auditor general Michael Ferguson, who died earlier this month, said in November that the military shouldn’t buy more planes because it doesn’t even have the pilots and mechanics to operate its current fleet.
The used jets are estimated to cost $471 million to purchase and modify. The government is expected to spend about $3 billion more to modernize the entire fleet, which will be 50 years by 2032.