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Backgrounder: Investments in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)

The RCAF is an integrated, flexible, and highly responsive force that is able to project air power and support CAF and allied operations globally. Strong, Secure, Engaged ensures the Air Force is capable of a wide range of operations such as: space-based surveillance of Canadian territory and approaches; 24/7 aerial search and rescue; and assisting civil authorities as needed. RCAF space-based and aviation capabilities must be integrated, able to adapt to the latest technology, and interoperable with our allies.

We will:

In addition, the Government continues to explore the potential acquisition of an interim aircraft to supplement the CF-18 fighter aircraft fleet until the completion of the transition to the permanent replacement aircraft.

The Government will provide $46.4 billion on an accrual basis ($64.4 billion on a cash basis) to fund equipment projects for the Royal Canadian Air Force over the next 20 years. This includes:

New Investments in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)


Project Description


Multi-Fleet Air Traffic Management Avionics Ensures aircraft are compliant with new international flight management regulations. 


Multi-Role Tanker Transport – Delivers a new Multi-Role Tanker Transport to maintain air-to-air refuel capability beyond 2026.


Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile Sustainment – Replaces the AIM-7P Sparrow missile that is no longer in production and maintains the RCAF Fighter aircraft air-to-air combat capability.


Advanced Short Range Missile – Replaces the current short range missile that has reached obsolescence.


Future Aircrew Training – Delivers a new and cohesive training program that replaces the current Pilot, Air Combat Systems Officer and Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator training systems. This capability will improve the RCAF’s ability to train sufficient numbers of aircrew for various roles.


Fighter Lead-in Training – Provides a critical bridge between pilot training and the commencement of operational fighter training.


CH-149 Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade – Upgrades CH-149 avionics as the current suite will increasingly restrict the ability to operate in all weather conditions.


Instrument Landing System Replacement Replaces obsolete precision approach aids at CAF Wings and airfields.


Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft Replaces the current CP-140 Aurora Long Range Patrol Aircraft fleet which will reach end of life in 2030.


CC-130J Block 8 Upgrade – Upgrades hardware and software to ensure interoperability with coalition partners, compatibility with civilian airspace requirements, and engineering diagnostic capability.


CC-150 Life Extension – Extends the life of the fleet by balancing the total airframe hours between tanker and transport variants.


CH-146 Griffon Limited Life Extension – This tactical utility helicopter will be revitalized to prolong its service life. These helicopters provide reconnaissance, air mobility (both independently and through armed escort of larger CH-147 Chinook helicopters), and fire support for land forces. They are also a secondary platform for Search and Rescue.


Utility Transport Aircraft – Replaces the CC-138 Twin Otter before it reaches its end of life. This capability supports the defence of Canada including safeguarding Canadian sovereignty by enabling a tactical air mobility capability in the North.


Defence - Enhanced Surveillance from Space Project – This project will replace the RADARSAT Constellation Mission in 2026. It will consist of a constellation of satellites configured with Synthetic Aperture Radar, Automatic Identification System, and other sensors to support of the Defence mission.


Enhanced Satellite Communications Project - Polar – Provides both narrow and wideband voice and data satellite communications at the tactical, operational and strategic levels to provide assured, secure and reliable communications in support of Canadian and international operations in the Arctic. 


Surveillance of Space 2 – Follows-on the Sapphire satellite that monitors the trajectory of other satellites and debris in space to determine threats to Canadian and Allied space assets; contributing to the US Space Surveillance Network and strengthening key Allied partnerships.


Tactical Narrowband Satellite – Provides narrowband near-global communications between 65 degrees South and 65 degrees North latitudes to provide assured, secure, and reliable communications in support of Canadian and international operations.

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