A contract to replace Canada’s Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) aging CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft is causing political strife.
Bombardier, in partnership with Canadian General Dynamics, has been urging Ottawa to consider a call for tenders for the contract. In May 2023, the two manufacturers offered a solution for the Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft (CMMA) program based on the Global 6500 aircraft, with modifications for torpedo transport and deployment.
Yet a month later, the United States State Department issued a favorable opinion to the possible Foreign Military Sale of up to 16 Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, meaning that a request was made by the federal government of Canada.
On October 17, 2023, Simon Page, the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Maritime and Defense Procurement Branch, revealed in a public hearing that federal officials favored Boeing following a recommendation from the US private consulting firm Avascent.
Avascent concluded that Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon was the sole suitable replacement for CP-140s. Bombardier and General Dynamics were reportedly not consulted during the analysis.
In a joint letter, Bombardier’s CEO Eric Martel and Joel Houde from General Dynamics accused the federal government of ignoring the offer from the local industry and pressing for the solution offered by Boeing instead.
“It’s inexplicable that bureaucrats can make a recommendation without asking the industry any questions,” Martel told local news La Presse. “I asked the politicians: ‘Has the decision been made?’ They tell me no, but clearly I hear the senior officials selling the P-8.”
The Trudeau government must now decide between approving the pending offer valued at up to $5.9 billion from the US State Department or launching an open call for tenders.