Canada has announced that it intends to join its other four Five Eyes alliance partner nations in acquiring the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), with the type set to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF’s) ageing Lockheed CP-140M Aurora fleet.
Announced by the Canadian government in a statement published on March 27, this prospective acquisition – which comes as the culmination of the Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft (CMMA) programme, a part of the nation’s Strong, Secure, Engaged defence policy – will ultimately serve as a replacement for the CP-140M fleet, which is due to leave operational RCAF service in 2030. In total, Canada seeks to acquire 16 P-8As, along with associated equipment and initial servicing activities, as well as access to intellectual property and technical data relevant to the platform.
The Poseidon’s selection comes after the Canadian Department of National Defence issued a Request for Information (RFI) to industry in February 2022 to explore prospective solutions to fulfil its CMMA requirements. In its March 27 statement, the Canadian government outlined that it selected the P-8A because it “is the only currently available aircraft that meets all of the CMMA operational requirements, namely anti-submarine warfare and C4ISR [Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance]…
“This platform is a proven capability that is operated by several of Canada’s defence partners including all of its Five Eyes allies – the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand – as well as Norway, and South Korea. Germany has also recently purchased this platform,” the statement said.
Having already selected the Poseidon, the Canadian government disclosed that it had recently submitted a Letter of Request (LOR) to the US government’s Foreign Military Sales programme, outlining the nation’s CMMA requirements and requesting an offer on the planned purchase of 16 P-8As. While Canada has submitted a LOR to the US government regarding the Poseidon, it does not commit the nation to buying the platform and the CMMA programme remains in the Options Analysis phase. “The final decision will be based on the capability offered, availability, pricing and benefits to Canadian industry,” the Canadian government statement concluded.
The RCAF has operated the CP-140 Aurora fleet since June 1980, when the first of 18 examples was delivered to the Canadian air arm. In November 2008, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $156m contract to conduct an aircraft service life extension programme (ASLEP) on 14 of the 18 Auroras delivered, upgrading them to CP-140M standard. This initiative aimed to extend the Aurora fleet’s viable service life by another 20-25 years, which brings it close to its planned withdrawal in 2030.