If it's like the CF's Canada have - the land based jets are lighter than Navy flat top perched jets
Sure about that? I'm looking up the specs, and the CF-18s have about same empty weight as the FA-18C. Of course the Super Hornets are larger and heavier.
I actually got a chance to talk to a couple of Canadian AF pilots at an airshow in California. One sounded like a stereotypical Canadian, while the other was obvious French-Canadian. I asked why they still had the carrier gear for the catapult. He said they've tried taking it off, but it just messed with the balance. Everything was balanced and it would apparently shudder a lot when they tried removing it. As far as I know, every foreign customer has basically kept all of the carrier based gear.