The Canadian government expressed its desire to replace the existing fleet of CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft with a new Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft (CMMA). In line with the modernization requirement, the country is currently considering the purchase of 14 units of P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from Boeing to replace its ageing 14 units of CP-140 maritime aircraft. The whole program if signed is expected to value at around $6 billion.
The CP-140 maritime patrol aircraft have served Canada for over 40 years, exceeding their expected service life since their introduction in 1980. While Bombardier‘s Global 6500 series business jet is also rumored to be in contention for the CMMA program, the P-8A Poseidon offers greater interoperability with allies such as Australia, the UK, and the US, as well as other NATO members. Additionally, the P-8A shares 86% commonality with the original equipment manufacturer’s 737 NG aircraft, of which there are over 100 operating in Canada, making training pilots and maintaining supply chains and MRO more convenient. And, unlike the CP-140 Aurora, the Poseidon is also capable of air-to-air refueling.
Being a part of NATO, Canada’s defense spending is driven by similar factors as its close allies. However, Canada’s interest to purchase the P-8A Poseidon aircraft is driven by its continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces with platform upgrades and procurements to stay ahead of emerging threats. The country is also committed to providing continued support for its operational deployments worldwide, which require sustained investment in defense capabilities. The acquisition of P-8A aircraft will enhance Canada’s capabilities for maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, and gathering intelligence in its regions of interest.
The RCAF’s critical needs include having access to secure and non-secure tools capable of line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight communication as well as the ability to conduct multi-spectral sensing, process and analyze the data onboard the aircraft. The Air Force intends to achieve these requirements by exploiting automation, data fusion, artificial intelligence, and machine learning decision support tools. Regarding overall Canadian military procurement, Boeing has suffered recent setbacks as its KC-46 did not qualify for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) Strategic Tanker Transport Capability project. More recently, Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F Block III Super Hornet was ruled out for the Future Fighter Capability Project. However, the CMMA project is a significant opportunity for Boeing to improve its standing and change its present predicament. Four of the P-8’s current operators are part of the Five Eyes alliance, which means they share logistical infrastructure and tactical interoperability. As the CP-140 is a variant of the Lockheed P-3 Orion turboprop, interoperability among these operators is also crucial. Overall, the P-8 offers off-the-shelf, out-of-the-box capability that aligns with the RCAF’s mission requirements.