current CAF roundel

Canadian Military Aircraft
Serial Numbers
Canadian Armed Forces
February 1968 to present

CAF low vis roundel

back to main page

go to table

go to bottom of page

Unification of the Canadian Armed Forces

The three Canadian military arms, the RCAF, the RCN, and the Canadian Army, were integrated into the Canadian Armed Forces in February 1968. From that date, aircraft procurement and numbering fell under a single authority. Since then, some aspects of integration have been "undone", mainly to boost moral and recruitment. Centralized aircraft procurement and serial numbering, however, has remained unchanged.

A new Canadian type identifier system in the 1950s

Prior to integration, the RCAF had begun to identify new aircraft types with a two letter, three number Type Designation, starting with the CF-100 Canuck. The first letter is always C. The second letter, known as the Basic Mission Symbol, defines the basic aircraft mission, and is largely based on the American DND type identifiers. The three digits were issued sequentially, starting with 100. Several out of sequence numbers were used, to align with American aircraft designations. Shortly after integration, all in service types not already covered by this numbering were given a designation within this system. See the table below for a list of type designations I've identified so far. For a more detailed explanation and history of this system see Andreas Parsch's excellent web page.  The assigning of Type Designations and Popular Names was controlled by CFAO 36-37, but this was replaced in 2007 by A-GA-005-000/AG-001 and C-05-005-001/AG-001, which are apparently not available to the public.

A new Canadian serial number system from 1968

This designation system became the basis for a new "unified" serial number system that was was introduced in phases.  New procurement began using this new system as early as May 1968.  By this time, the Canadair built CF-5s had received new six digit serial numbers starting with 116701, in place of the 5 digit RCAF serials they were originally ordered with.  For new procurement from 1986, only 6 digit serial numbers are to be used.  This post integration serial number always starts with the 3 digits of the Type Designation.  For new procurement, the last 2 or 3 digits are usually sequential.  In a few cases, the last digits are based on manufacturers numbers, or on previous military serial numbers.

Remarking the existing fleet

For those existing aircraft given new serial numbers within this system, the last 2 or 3 digits are usually the last 2 or 3 digits of the old RCAF or RCN serial number. For example, RCAF CF-104 Starfighter 12645 became CAF 104645, and Canadian Army CH-113A Voyageur 10418 became CAF 11318. The selection of the 3rd and fourth from last digits, and the timing of each change over, insured that there would never be two aircraft operating with the same last four digits (often used as a radio call sign).  For example, the CC-117 Falcons had to be remarked before the CF-100 Canucks, so that Falcon 20504 would not be operated at the same time as Canuck 100504.

Existing aircraft were renumbered from May 1970 to about 1973.  Remarking of operational aircraft of the same type was generally done in as short a time as possible,  so it is very rare (unknown?) to see a photograph of 2 or more aircraft of the same type with a mix of pre- and post-integration numbers.  The "first date" in my database for these aircraft is the effective date of the CAF order authorizing the new serials.  Officially, 30 days were allowed from this date for the remarking.  In practice, some types took longer.  In particular, aircraft in storage or in use as Instructional Airframes were sometimes not remarked until they returned to flight status.  For some aircraft, this meant they completed their CAF career without ever being marked with their assigned number.  Remarking the entire inventory took about three years.  Obviously, not all of the original fleets of these existing types survived to be renumbered on integration.  My database only contains those aircraft that I can positively identify as having been actually remarked, and is probably far from complete.  If you have documented proof (like a photograph) of an aircraft being remarked that is not in my lists, I would love to hear from you.

Some recent trends

The CAF followed a common trend amongst world air forces, and began leasing aircraft, especially trainers, in the 1990s. Some of these were operated with civil registrations, in the current Canadian C-Fxxx or C-Gxxx series.  These civil registered aircraft do not have Canadian Forces Type Designators, except for the Jetrangers that were originally purchased and owned by the Forces.  These civil registered aircraft now have their own web page.

By the end of the last century, the Forces had begun to assign Type Designators in blocks.  The original block continues in rough numerical order, having reached 150 with the Airbus A310.  A second block was started for leased aircraft, with the CT-155 Hawk in  2000, shortly followed by the CT-156 Harvard II.  According to urban legend, the 155 block was selected because all these aircraft would be used by 15 Wing at CFB Moose Jaw.  The third block, for unmanned vehicles, began with the CU-160 Eagle a few years later, and has reached at least CU-170 (perhaps with gaps, perhaps not).  The CF-18 remains a block onto itself, at CF-188, as does the new CC-177.  Northern aeronumerologists await the next issue of a Type Designator with great anticipation, but the current budget situation makes these events few and far between.

Some un-official Canadian designations and popular names

Starting in the 1960s, several American aircraft manufacturers began referring to sales (or even potential sales) to the CAF by using the American designation with a "C" prefix. For example, the CUH-1N (really a CH-135), and the CF-5 (the CF-116). Even the Canadian press, and some members of the CAF, will use these unofficial designations from time to time. To add to the confusion, two of these names (the CF-5 and the CF-18) have been adopted as the official Popular Name.  I am in the process of updating my data base to use only the official Type Designation and Popular Name.

The table below will connect you to two types of listings of these aircraft. The "Brief lists" present a minimum amount of information about as many aircraft as I can fit on a reasonably sized page. Use these lists to identify individual aircraft, or to quickly scan a large range of serials. The other lists contain all the information currently in my database, and are broken into many more pages to keep the data manageable.



Name and type
(closest equivalent US or civil designation)



Avro Canada Canuck, all weather fighter

detailed list
22 records
updated 19 January 2008


McDonnell Voodoo, all weather fighter
(F-101B, F-101F)

note: first series retained their RCAF 5 digit serials until returned to USAF in late 1960s

second series: 101001 to 101067 detailed list
67 records
updated 27 December 2008


Grob Astra, primary trainer

The use of CT-102 for the Grob may be unofficial, but it has appeared in several DND publications.  The aircraft carry civil registrations.  No known serial allocations.

NOTE: 102 was originally skipped to prevent confusion with Avro Canada C-102, the Jetliner


Not used, possibly reserved for the Avro Canada C-103 (design project for swept wing CF-100)

no known serial allocations


Canadair Starfighter, attack and reconnaissance
(Lockheed F-104D, F-104G)

two seaters detailed list
36 records
updated 28 April 2013

104700 to 104771

45 records
updated 28 April 2013

104772 to 104832

45 records
updated 28 April 2013

104833 to 104900

46 records
updated 28 April 2013


Avro Canada Arrow, all weather fighter

all scrapped prior to integration,
see RCAF 5 digit serials 25201 and up


Canadair Yukon, transport

106921 to 106932
12 records
updated 12 March 2006


Canadair Argus, maritime reconnaissance

10710 to 10742

32 records
updated 21 april 2006


de Havilland Canada Caribou

Retained RCAF serial numbers until retired in June 1971


Canadair Cosmopolitan, transport

detailed list
9 records
updated 26 August 2005


Grumman Albatross, search and rescue

Retained their RCAF serial numbers until retired in December 1970


Slingsby Firefly, trainer
note: originally reserved for Lockheed Starfighter, as CF-111, prior to integration

This may be an unofficial type designation. Aircraft were leased, and carried civil registrations, including C-GSTQ (coded "205").  A recent (2005) CF flight safety report used the "CT-111" designation.


Hiller Nomad, trainer, liaison, and AOP helicopter

detailed list
20 records, updated 9 April 2011


Boeing Vertol Voyageur and Labrador,
transport and SAR helicopter

detailed list
15 records
updated 30 June 2006


Canadair Tutor, trainer

I have identified 178 Tutors that  received CAF serials (out of 190 built for RCAF)

114001 to 114050
49 records
updated  20 April 2014

114051 to 114100
49 records
updated 20 April 2014

114101 to 114150
46 records
updated 12 May 2014

114151 to 114190
34 records
updated 15 June 2014


de Havilland Canada Buffalo, transport, SAR

115451 to 115465
15 records
updated 4 February 2005


Canadair CF-5, light fighter
(Northrop F-5A, F-5B)

single seaters:

116701 to 116745
45 records
updated 20 April 2012

116746 to 116789
44 records
updated 20 April 2012

two seaters:

116801 to 116846 
46 records
updated 20 April 2012


Dassault Falcon, transport

117501 to 117508
8 records
updated 23 July 2006


Bell Iroquois, utility helicopter

118101 to 118110
10 records
updated 14 January 2006


Cessna Bird Dog, AOP
(L-19 / O-1)

detailed list
23 records
updated 7 January 2007


de Havilland Canada Chipmunk, trainer

detailed list
52 records
updated 14 January 2006


de Havilland Canada Tracker, maritime reconnaissance
(Grumman S2F / S-1)

detailed list
57 records
updated 18 November 2005


Lockheed Neptune, maritime reconnaissance
(P2V / P-2)

retained their RCAF 5 digit serial numbers until retired in mid 1968


de Havilland Canada Otter,
transport and SAR

Designation CSR-123 was also used.  Retained their RCAF 4 digit serials until retired.


Sikorsky Sea King, ASW and utility helicopter

detailed list
39 records
updated 14 April 2006


Vertol H-21, transport and SAR helicopter

retained their RCAF 4 digit serial numbers until retired in early 1970s


Sikorsky H-34, transport and SAR helicopter
(Sikorsky S-58)

retained their RCAF 4 digit serial numbers until retired in early 1970s


Vertol H-44, transport and SAR helicopter
(Vertol Model 44)

retained their RCAF 4 digit serial numbers until retired in early 1970s


Beechcraft Expeditor, trainer

At unification, the Canadian Forces inherited 159 Expeditors with a mix of serial number types, most of them in storage.  21 of these Expeditors in the 1500 range were given new 4 digit serials, to avoid conflict with RCN serials for CP-121 Trackers.  These aircraft are in the detailed list below.  The CF history of the remaining aircraft is recorded with their RCAF history, on the appropriate RCAF 4 digit serial page, the post war RCAF page, or the RAF serial number page.  CAF serials in the 12801 and up range were allocated for the Expeditors, but I can find no evidence that any were applied before the last of the fleet was retired in 1972.

5179 to 5199
21 records
updated 6 April 2007


Douglas Dakota, transport
(C-47 Skytrain)

At unification, the CAF fleet of 94 Dakotas carried 3 digit, 4 digit and 5 digit RCAF serial numbers, and RAF serial numbers.  For this reason, the 71 still owned when the fleet was renumbered did not use the old last two or last three for any of the new serials, in the 12901 to 12971 range.

detailed list
71 records
updated 6 January 2012


Lockheed Hercules, transport

detailed list
(56 records)
updated 27 April 2013


Canadair CL-84 Dynavert,
experimental tilt wing VTOL

Serial numbers starting 13101 were allocated, but never marked.  Retained their RCAF serial numbers throughout their life.


de Havilland Canada Dash Seven, transport

132001, 132002
(2 records)
updated 21 May 2006


Canadair T-33, trainer
(Lockheed T-33)

The only T-33s remaining in service when renumbered where all Mk. 3s, although the CAF did not use this notation.  Of 656 Mk. 3s delivered to the RCAF, I have identified 158 that received new serial numbers.

up to 133352

51 records
updated 19 August 2005

133353 to 133508

51 records
updated 19 August 2005

133509 and up

56 records
updated 19 August 2005


Beechcraft Musketeer, trainer

Detailed list

(71 records)

Updated 23 November 2013

CT-134, as delivered in 1971:
13401 to 13425

CT-134, as renumbered in 1973:
134201 to 134225

134226 to 134246


Bell Twin Huey, utility and SAR helicopter

135101 to 135150

50 records
updated 16 June 2006


Bell Kiowa, observation helicopter

136201 to 136274

75 records
updated 7 July 2006


Boeing  707, transport and tanker

13701 to 13705

5 records
updated 14 July 2006


de Havilland Canada Twin Otter, SAR

13801 to 13809

9 records
updated 14 July 2006


Bell Jet Ranger, trainer helicopter

139301 to 139314

14 records

updated 28 June 2015

later received civil registrations


Lockheed Aurora and Arcturus,
maritime reconnaissance
(P-3 Orion)

140101 to 140118 Aurora
140119 to 140121 Arcturus

21 records
updated 28 October 2006


reserved for planned purchase of Lockheed C-141 Starlifter,
project not proceeded with

Serial numbers 14101 to 14104 were reserved during contract negotiations.  The purchase was canceled when the Boeing 707s (CC-137s) became available.

CC, CT-142

de Havilland Canada Dash Eight, transport and trainer

142801 to 142806

6 records
updated 1 March 2007


MBB BK-117A-3D, test bed helicopter

1 record
updated 12 March 2006

CC, CE-144

Canadair Challenger, transport and EW trainer

144601 to 144618

18 records
updated 25 August 2005


Beechcraft Super King Air, trainer

145201 (2 different aircraft) and 145202.
Now replaced by leased BE90s, with civil registrations, including C-GMBC

2 additional civil B200 King Airs were leased in June 2009 from Aero Support of London, Ontario, for use by the new Multi-Engine Utility Flight at CFB Trenton.  Initially received with civil registrations C-GDVF and C-GDNH.  They are coded 208 and 209, which may mean they have serials 145208 and 145209 (still to be confirmed).

I have received an unconfirmed report of two civil registered B200 Kingairs being operated in Kandahar in 2011, possibly in support of the Canadian military and possibly by the Canadian military.  Reported serials are C-GDTS and C-GVDS.  More info anyone?


Bell Griffon, utility and SAR helicopter
(Model 412)

Note that the trainers used at the former CFB Portage are sometimes referred to as CT-146 Outlaws, probably unofficially

146400 to 146449
50 records
updated 30 June 2007

146450 to 146499
50 records
updated 30 June 2007


Boeing Vertol Chinook, transport helicopter
(CH-47C, CH-47D, CH-47F)

147001 to 147009, 147201 to 147207, 147301 to 147315
31 records
updated 27 June 2013

First batch: nine purchased new, in service 1974 to 1992. 
Second batch: six CH-47D purchased second hand from the US for use in Afghanistan in 2008, plus one replacement in 2010.  Surviving aircraft were returned to the USA during late 2011.
Third batch:  15 new build CH-147F, with first flight in June 2012, and deliveries starting in June 2013.  They will be based at CFB Petawawa.


  • reserved for EHI Petrel ASW helicopter, order for 35 aircraft canceled
  • Sikorsky Cyclone, ASW helicopter, (S-92)
  • no known serial allocations for Petrel

148801 to 14828
28 records
updated 25 July 2012

  • 28 Cyclones ordered 2004, deliveries to start in 2009, uh 2010, er 2011, um 2012, maybe 2013, 2015 for sure.  Maybe.


EHI Chimo (order for 15 aircraft canceled), re-assigned to
EHI Cormorant, both SAR helicopters

149901 to 149915
15 records
updated 25 August 2006


Airbus Polaris, transport and tanker

15001 to 15005
5 records
updated 11 December 2007






















British Aerospace Hawk, trainer
(Hawk Mk. 115)

155201 to 155220 (first batch, 2000)
155221, 155222 (replacement aircraft, 2004)

22 records
updated 10 September 2005


Raytheon Harvard II, trainer
(T-6 Texan II)

156101 to 156124 (first batch, 2000)
156125, 156126 (second batch, 2002)

26 records
updated 1 March 2008

















EADS/IAI Eagle 1

Quoting from CASR:

"DND leased an EADS /IAI Eagle-1 for its Tofino-based PLIX trials in July 2003. The UAV, designated CU-160 Eagle, was operated by Israelis on a charter arrangement and was an  IAI  Heron conversion prototype, but  fitted with a belly radome."


SAGEM Sperwer, UAV

Detailed list
31 records
updated 13 December 2009


Meggitt Defence System

162001 (at least)
Believed to be used as UAV target in air defence training.  Serial number 162031 received Category B damage in a launch incident at CFB Gagetown, NB on 31 January 2006


General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Altair,
long endurance UAV
(Predator B)

leased 2004 for tests in Eastern Canada and Arctic



There are unconfirmed reports on the Internet that the CU-164 designation was reserved for a study of long range UAVs intended for use in the Arctic



The one reference to the CU-165 in a 2009 CF safety report appears to be a typo





Advanced Ceramics Research Silver Fox,
mini UAV

167001 to 167004 (at least)

Thanks to our Designated UAV Expert, Stephen Priestley at CASR, for providing much of my UAV information.  Now, what happened to 164 to 166?


Elbit Skylark
mini UAV

Order for  5, plus option for five more, placed in March 2006. 

This hand launched, electric powered UAV was used operationally in Afghanistan.  Program to procure replacements launched in March 2013.


Boeing-Insitu ScanEagle

In use with the Air Defence Artillery since July 2008. 

Possibly a replacement for the CU-162, also used for ship launched trials.

In November 2011 DND announced that a ScanEagle would be deployed on HMCS Charlottetown on an upcoming deployment off Libya.

A ScanEagle on display at the National Mueum at Rockliffe in 2014 carries the last three of 909, suggesting its full serial number might be 169909.


IAI Heron

$CDN100,000,000 contract awarded in spring of 2008 to IAI's Canadian partner, MacDonald Dettwiler, to provide and operate an undisclosed number of IAI Herons in Afghanistan.  Several were in use with the Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing at Kandahar by end of 2008.  Serials identified so far include 170251 (possible) and 170252 (confirmed).







Boeing Globemaster III

177701 to 177705
5 records
updated 4 March 2015


Mil Mi-17-V5

178404 to 178407

Lease agreement negotiated in early 2010 for 4 helicopters use by the Canadian Forces from Kandahar, Afghanistan, although this was not publicly announced until fall 2010 (following press reports of the helicopters in service in May and June of 2010).  Unlike the leased civil registered and civil crewed Mi-8s at Kandahar, these aircraft are in full military markings, and are flown by Canadian Forces crews into combat situations.
UPDATE: At least 3 of these helicopters were airfrieghted to Graf Ignatievo air base in Bulgaria on 18 August 2011, with the Canadian markings covered with tape.







McDonnell Douglas CF-18, multi-role fighter
(F-18A, F-18B)

188701 to 188749 (single seat)
49 records
updated 31 May 2008

188750 to 188798 (single seat)
49 records
updated 31 May 2008

188901 to 188940 (dual seat)
40 records
updated 31 May 2008







This data has come from a variety of sources, and may contain all sorts of errors. In the future, I will add a complete list of references. For now, some recent Internet references can be found at the links below.  I would welcome any corrections or additions you may have. Contact me using the link below.

To main page

to top of this page

contact me

Canadian Military Aircraft links 

Serial Number Links

About the Author 

The Project

2004 - 2015 by R. W. R. Walker      All rights reserved under the copyright laws.
This is an amateur site - please don't rely on any of this data for anything important!
Created 28 April 2004. Updated 28 June 2015.