P-8A Poseidon for Canada, or not?
The Government of Canada is seeking to replace the CP-140 Aurora fleet of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) with a Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft (CMMA). The CP-140 Aurora fleet, based on the Lockheed P-3 Orion, was originally procured in 1980, and is scheduled to be retired around 2030. Out of eighteen Auroras purchased, fourteen remain in use with 407 Squadron at Comox (B.C.) and 14 Wing at Greenwood (N.S.). The CP-140s have seen extensive upgrades over their service life. However, procuring a new fleet is required to ensure Canada has the equipment to protect sovereignty along its long (arctic) coastline.
In February 2022, Scramble Magazine first wrote on the Request for Information (RFI) that was issued by the Canadian government to obtain information from the industry.
In March 2023, following engagements with industry and closest allies, the Canadian government has determined that the P-8A Poseidon is the only currently available aircraft that meets all of the CMMA operational requirements, namely anti-submarine warfare and C4ISR.
However, this government approach for a sole source contract triggered a strong reaction from the Canadian aviation industry and its lobbyists. Headed by Bombardier, a main rival for Boeing in the aviation industry, it was followed duly by some Canadian politicians seeking to create jobs in Canada.
The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) in collaboration with General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada and Bombardier Defense, now enters the playing field to push for a Multi-Mission and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) built in Canada, aimed at CMMA operational requirements, based on Bombardier’s Global 6500 executive jet. The company highlights its track record of modifying its Global-range of business jets for multi-mission configurations and its competitive pricing.
The replacement of the CP-140 Aurora has now become a highly political issue, with rivals Boeing and Bombardier at odds again. With a proposed in service date of the CMMA in 2032-2033, Scramble Magazine’s assessment is that CCC is under pressure to demonstrate its Global 6500 multi-mission solution not only meets CMMA-requirements, but can be developed and delivered in time. Meanwhile, Boeing is keen to keep production of the P-8A Poseidon running (currently to 2025-2026) and could very well use a large Canadian order for its proven Poseidon, that is already used by Canada’s allies.
The Government of Canada first has to decide whether it wants an open competition and will request a formal proposal for the Global 6500, or any other competitor.
Artist impressions by Boeing and Bombardier