CF-18 center barrel replacement and wing
root drill jig. (Emergia Aerospace)
Canada is so confident in the F-35 that they are extending the life of their CF-18 Hornets--procured in the 1980's--out to 2025.
That is 15 years after the failed 2010 announcement by the Canadian government to commit completely to the F-35.
Canada had started center-barrel replacement on the CF-18s some years back in order to give some breathing room for the aircraft's replacement to come on board.
They did a study. Set up resources. Then, when it got too complex and expensive--hey, it isn't a big U.S. Navy production line in Jacksonville, Florida--they stopped. The Canadian forces would find a way to get by. Australia was hoping to piggy-back on Canada's efforts. Of course that stopped after a handful of RAAF F-18s were done. Australia also didn't do a good estimate on resourcing the effort. Manpower and even down to not having enough fasteners. The RAAF had hoped Canada would do a few and Australia would do the rest at home.
AN-124 bringing a re-barrelled RAAF F-18 back home from Canada.
Suddenly after that failure, a study showed that they didn't really need to do that many rebarrels on RAAF F-18s. You have to cover the stupid decisions with happy studies after the fact. That is the DMO M.O. RAAF ended up with 10 rebarrelled F-18s.
Now? It looks like Canada will have to look at center-barrel replacement on the CF-18 again. This only gets one so far. The refurb effort is a fun surprise for every Hornet they tear down. Each aircraft has its own wear over time and...corrosion. Of course that is just the center-barrel. There are other things like the wing and wing pylon that have to be looked at for corrosion and wear. This is a bit less difficult.
The final thing on rebarreling a classic Hornet? It can cost around $20-25M each. Not much less than new late-LOT F-18Cs before they stopped production.
You can only do a rebarrel a Hornet once. After that, if it reaches its final hours, its off to the trash bin.
It was never designed to be a depot jet (like an F-15). Its legacy is from the 1970's light-weight fighter effort. Fly x-amount of hours and then trash it.
The rebarrel started as a one-off when someone in the Navy wrecked a fairly new C model.
Later, out of desperation and not wanting to pay for new jets, someone decided they could do that to whole portions of the U.S. Navy classic Hornet community for choice jets they felt were worth the effort.
So for Canada, they may have to pull some jets out of storage (where almost half of them reside). Once the few CF-18s that have already had the rebarrel get to their limit, they are retired for good.