RCAF unveils CF-18 Demo Hornet paint scheme for 100th anniversary

Avatar for Skies MagazineBy Skies Magazine | May 7, 2024

Estimated reading time 8 minutes, 57 seconds.

Cpl Nicolette Clements, Aviation Systems Technician rides the brakes as the new CF-18 Hornet Demo Jet is towed down the flight line at 4 Wing Cold Lake May 3, 2024. Photo by Sergeant Owen W. Budge, 4 Wing Cold Lake Imaging

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) has unveiled the intricate paint scheme of the 2024 Demo Hornet, a stylized fighter jet that will represent the Air Force at airshows across North America and overseas as part of the CF-18 Demonstration Team.

Cast primarily in deep blue, with red and white accents, the Demo Hornet pays tribute to the RCAF’s 100th anniversary, while acknowledging the important role of technology in modern-day missions.

“The Centennial milestone places the RCAF in a unique position to honour its distinct heritage; recognize its tremendous people today; and generate excitement for its bright future,” the Demo Team said in a statement.

The CF-18 Demo Jet will perform at airshows across North America and overseas this year. Photo by Sergeant Owen W. Budge, 4 Wing Cold Lake Imaging

“The CF-18 Demo Team is proud to represent Canada and the Royal Canadian Air Force throughout the 2024 demonstration season.” 

As part of its preparations for the centennial, the RCAF held a design contest, with contributions from across the country. MCpl Kevin Kelly from 10 Field Technical Training Squadron (FTTS), submitted the winning Demo Hornet design.

Kelly joined the Canadian Armed Forces as a reservist with the Voltigeurs de Québec at age 16, and transferred to the regular force in 2006 as an avionics system technician. Today, he works in training and standards at 10 FTTS.

The Demo Hornet design has four key themes: Innovation and technology, air power, “our people,” and the RCAF’s distinguished heritage and history.

A skilled team of aviation structures technicians at 1 Air Maintenance Squadron, 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., completed the paint job, which the Air Force revealed to the public May 3.

Innovation and technology

A futuristic and modern rendering of the RCAF logo appears on either wing, with embellishments that appear to mimic an instrument dial.

Gears, electronic circuits and a binary pattern of zeros and ones are painted along the back and between the tails, representing technology RCAF aircraft depend upon today.

The binary numbers, when decoded, read: “RCAF 2024” and “ARC 2024,” the latter a reference to the moniker’s French translation (Aviation royal canadienne).

Air power

Silhouettes of several modern RCAF aircraft are painted on the outside of the port (left) vertical stabilizer, representing the Air Force’s contemporary air power in various roles.

  • Fighter Force (CF-18 Hornet)
  • Maritime aviation (CH-148 Cyclone helicopter)
  • Search and rescue (CC-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft and CH-146 Griffon helicopter)
  • Tactical airlift and transportation (CC-177 Globemaster and CC-130 Hercules); and
  • Community outreach (CT-114 Tutor aircraft, flown by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds).

‘Our people’

RCAF personnel are represented with three silhouettes on the Demo Hornet’s starboard (right) vertical stabilizer, depicting a non-commissioned member, an officer and a pilot.

“Reinforcing the RCAF’s inclusive approach, generic silhouettes are utilized providing the viewer the opportunity to envision each in the gender and nationality that best represents with whom they identify,” the Air Force said in a statement.

Heritage and history

The starboard vertical stabilizer also features silhouettes of key aircraft from the RCAF’s past, including:

  • CF-100 Canuck, a Canadian-designed and built interceptor aircraft that served the RCAF for nearly 30 years;
  • CF-86 Sabre, which served as a front-line fighter and air display aircraft with the Golden Hawks aerobatics team from 1959 to 1963;
  • Canadair North Star, primary choice for supporting troops overseas and delivering humanitarian aid from 1949 to 1963; and
  • Avro Lancaster, a war-time bomber and post-war search and rescue, maritime patrol, aerial photography and arctic patrol aircraft.

The aircraft’s underside is primarily silver, accented with a large red maple leaf and the RCAF 100th anniversary logo, along with a smattering of stars on each wing.

It’s expected CF-18 Demo Hornet will perform in 19 locations across Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom this spring and summer. A tentative schedule is available on the here.

“It is a great honour to be chosen this year,” said Capt Caleb “Tango” Robert, pilot for the CF-18 Demonstration Team, in an interview with Skies.

“We have a lot of special and unique events around the country … I like to say the Royal Canadian Air Force is having a birthday bash and we (the Demo Team) will be providing the entertainment.”

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