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Canada cleared to buy Sidewinder missiles for its Hornet jets

CF-188 Hornet
Photo: Royal Canadian Air Force

The US State Department has approved a possible sale of 50 Sidewinder AIM-9X Block II tactical missiles to the government of Canada.

The contract to equip Royal Canadian Air Force’s F/A-18A aircraft with the air to air missiles is worth an estimated $862 million, according to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

The approval does not indicate a contract has been concluded and actual values can change during the negotiations. The envisioned deal includes captive air training missiles, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar units, AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon glide bombs, upgrades to the advanced distributed combat training system, ground collision avoidance system and decoys, among other items.

“This sale will provide Canada a 2-squadron bridge of enhanced F/A-18A aircraft to continue meeting NORAD and NATO commitments while it gradually introduces new advanced aircraft via the Future Fighter Capability Program between 2025 and 2035,” DSCA said in a release.

The prime contractors would be Raytheon Corporation, General Dynamics Mission Systems, Boeing and Collins Aerospace.

Canada is looking to procure the equipment after it purchased 18 F/A-18A/B Hornets from Australia in December 2017 and welcoming the first of the aircraft in May 2019. The acquisition was an interim measure as Canada is still looking for a successor for its fleet of aging CF-188 Hornets. A current deadline for proposals for the successor aircraft has been extended by the Public Services and Procurement Canada until July 31, 2020.