Supersonic CF-188 Hornet in Thunder Bay

Local News

CF 18
CF-18 Photo by Guy Gascoigne

By Guy Gascoigne

THUNDER BAY – The supersonic CF-188 Hornet, popularly known as the CF-18, can engage both ground and aerial targets. Its twin engines generate enough thrust to lift 24 full-size pick-up trucks off the ground.  (The alpha-numerical designation for fighter aircraft is CF.)

As the Royal Canadian Air Force’s frontline multi-role fighter, the modernized CF-188 is used for:

  • air defence
  • air superiority
  • tactical support
  • training
  • aerobatic demonstration
  • aerospace testing and evaluation

The CF-188 went through a phased modernization program to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces have a modern and interoperable fighter fleet.

Because of its power, speed and target tracking capabilities, the CF-188 has had great success in many military operations at home and abroad.

As a significant contribution to NORAD, Canada’s fighter force is committed to protecting North America from airborne threats. As part of Operation NOBLE EAGLE, our CF-188s maintain a constant state of alert to safeguard North American skies.

In 2014 CF-188s began patrolling European skies alongside our NATO partners to ensure security in the region, in support of Operation REASSURANCE.

Recent Named Operations  Year  Location  How aircraft was employed
REASSURANCE 2014-Ongoing Lithuania, Iceland, Romania CF-188 Hornets periodically contribute to the NATO – Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities.
IMPACT 2014-2016 Iraq, Syria Deployed as part of the Canadian Armed Forces’ contribution to the Middle East Stabilization Force (MESF).

Conducted 1,378 sorties between October 2014 and February 2016, delivering 606 munitions from 251 airstrikes on ISIL targets.


The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has members serving on Operation REASSURANCE in Central and Eastern Europe. They are there as part of NATO assurance and deterrence measures. These measures aim to reinforce NATO’s collective defence. It also shows the strength of Allied solidarity.

During this operation, the CAF is conducting training, exercises, and some NATO-specific tasks.

The CAF support to NATO helps make Central and Eastern Europe more secure and stable. It also shows that the CAF is a professional force that is ready for any task.


For three weeks starting March 28, 2019, HMCS Toronto is deployed to the Black Sea to conduct exercises and maritime patrols. It is deployed as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2).

SNMG2 also includes:

  • HNLMS Evertsen (The Netherlands)
  • ROS Regele Ferdinand (Romania)
  • ESPS Santa Maria (Spain)
  • BGS Drazki (Bulgaria)
  • TCG Yildirim (Turkey).

They are operating in accordance with the Montreux Convention and in full compliance with international maritime regulations. They are working to preserve peace and promote security in the region.

How many people are deployed?

At any time, there are up to 835 CAF members deployed on Operation REASSURANCE. This includes:

  • approximately 240 sailors onboard a frigate, operating with NATO
  • 540 soldiers leading a NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia
  • 135 members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and approximately 5 CF-188 Hornet aircraft participating in NATO enhanced Air Policing


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