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Federal government to purchase 16 P-8A Poseidon aircraft, deal valued at billions of dollars

Surveillance planes: Ottawa to award no-tender contract to Boeing

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Built by Boeing, the P-8A Poseidon is a multi-tasking maritime reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft. (Archive photo)

  • Louis Blouin (View profile)Louis Blouin
  • Marc Gosselin (View profile)Marc Gosselin

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The federal government will award a contract to the American giant Boeing without a call to replace its surveillance planes and will buy 16 P-8A Poseidon type aircraft from it. This was confirmed by two government sources from Ottawa to Radio-Canada.

According to our sources, this is a contract worth several billion dollars. Information released in late June by an agency of the US Department of Defense estimated that the price of aircraft and equipment associated with the P-8A Poseidon was valued at US$5.9 billion.

La Presse first reported the news, which was confirmed by Radio-Canada.

To justify its announcement, which will be confirmed tomorrow, Ottawa argues that the Poseidon device is used by several of Canada's allies, which facilitates operations, we explain.

The contract price is also an issue, says a source. This source argues that Boeing is committed to significant economic benefits in Canada as part of this contract. The American giant has several suppliers on this side of the border.

In addition, Boeing is committed to opening an innovation center in Quebec.

In recent months, Bombardier had requested a formal call for tenders to replace the 14 CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft, which will have to be scrapped in 2030, after half a century of use by the Royal Canadian Air Force.

In July, the Prime Minister of Quebec, François Legault, who supported Bombardier, sought support from his counterparts in other provinces. Doug Ford, from Ontario, notably supported it.

Questioned during an impromptu press conference, Wednesday morning at the ;National Assembly, François Legault mentioned that if Ottawa does not go to a call for tenders, it is unfortunate, because we are forgetting a great Quebec company, Bombardier.

According to a government source, the option proposed by Bombardier was too uncertain from the point of view of timelines and availability, since the proposed aircraft had not yet been developed.

The plane offered by the Montreal aircraft manufacturer was a Global 6500 business jet, equipped with technology and sensors from General Dynamics. Bombardier maintained in July that the aircraft would be ready in the early 2030s, in accordance with the needs expressed by Ottawa.

In early November, Bombardier President and CEO Éric Martel wrote to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland in warning that there was no urgency to use a single supplier to replace the CP-140 Auroras.

Bombardier was of the opinion that this fleet was going to remain relevant until the late 2030s and early 2040s.

In addition, the Montreal aircraft manufacturer estimated at that time that the acquisition cost did not take into account the investments required in infrastructure, for example with regard to 'expansion of existing hangars.

Finally, Bombardier considered it fiscally irresponsible for National Defense to award a multi-billion dollar contract for a platform developed in the United States, at a time when the Treasury Board Secretariat recently asked National Defense to find billion-dollar savings in your budget.

  • Louis Blouin (View profile)Louis BlouinFollow
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