Replacing observation aircraft | Multi-billion dollar contract with Bombardier and Boeing

A multibillion-dollar contract for surveillance aircraft for the Canadian Armed Forces is looming and concerns two competitors who know each other well: Bombardier and Boeing. The former is trying to increase his exposure to the military sector and the latter wants to get back in Ottawa’s good graces.

American giant Boeing has already shown its colors by introducing the P-8A Poseidon and by joining companies such as CAE, GE Aviation Canada and the group that owns Pratt & Whitney Canada. More conservative, the Quebec aircraft manufacturer hopes to have the opportunity to promote its world class private jets, which can be converted.

If we are talking about a control plane, then the global one [de Bombardier] It could do just fine, says Richard Aboulafia, CEO of AeroDynamics. If Canada wanted a naval fighter jet […]maybe we’re talking about the P-8A [de Boeing]. »

Beginning in 2030, the National Defense will phase out its fleet of CP-140 Aurora, a four-engine long-range patrol aircraft. It was commissioned in 1980. The aircraft can carry eight anti-submarine torpedoes.

The US-assembled device provided by Boeing — which is similar to the 737 family of planes — can also drop torpedoes. This is not the case for aircraft converted by the Quebec aircraft manufacturer, but that may change.

Photo by Darren Koch from Wikipedia

Boeing P-8A Poseidon used by the US Army

“Bombardier will work with third-party partners to integrate the equipment according to potential Canadian orders,” Bombardier spokesman Mark Masloch said, without elaborating.

The Global Family is assembled in the Toronto area. The aircraft is being repurposed in Wichita, Kansas, which was previously responsible for building Learjets.

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On Tuesday, it was not possible to know what the National Defense requested. At the moment, “all options” are being considered, we explained in an email.

Billions are at stake

Canada’s “Multi-Mission Aircraft” program, worth more than $5 billion, should start to take shape in 2023. Then we should have a better idea of ​​what Ottawa is looking for. The first deliveries are planned for the beginning of the next decade.

For the Quebec multinational Bombardier, the challenge is convincing the Canadian authorities that a smaller device can accomplish the same work as its competitor’s model, already in use by the US military, in the UK, in Norway and also in Australia in particular. In this context, the P-8A offers “interoperability [avec les alliés] “It is unparalleled for Canada,” Boeing spokeswoman Maria Costley said, adding that 155 planes are now in service.

Although the RFI issued last February by Ottawa includes a section on antisubmarine warfare, the document casts a very wide net. It mentions the purchase of a “civilian aircraft” that has been converted “into a military platform”.

“From my point of view, this means that the government is considering several options and that a final choice has not yet been made,” said Thomas Hughes, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for International Politics at Queen’s University in Kingston. Will we replace the Aurora with a single plane or multiple platforms? It’s an option. »

Attendance is increasing

Bombardier Global has already been selected by Saab as part of the GlobalEye programme, an airborne remote monitoring system.

Image from the Bombardier website

Bombardier Global Aircraft in Sweden

Aircraft of the same family have already been delivered to the US Air Force. With telecommunications equipment clearly shrinking, the Quebec aircraft manufacturer is betting its converted business jets can do the same job as the big carriers in terms of surveillance missions.

Bombardier is much less present than Boeing, Airbus and Embraer in the military sector, but it would like to change that. The company wants to make about 10% – or about $1 billion – of its annual revenue.

Boeing’s star faded dramatically in Canada after it sued the then-C Series aircraft in 2017, alleging damage from Bombardier’s unjustified subsidies. The US giant was rejected by the US commercial courts, but Series C was temporarily subject to a 292% countervailing and anti-dumping charge.

Last March, the Trudeau government quietly jettisoned the Boeing Super Hornet as part of the process of replacing aging CF-18s. The decision was interpreted by some as retaliation for the lawsuit filed at the time against Series C.

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  • 4
    The number of aircraft built by Bombardier and owned by the Canadian government. These are the Challenger 650 and Challenger 604.

    Source: bomber

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