Apr 1, 2014
Canada To Seek Less Expensive Maritime Patrol Plane, Upgrade More Auroras
Budget problems have scuttled Canada’s quest for a large, long-range maritime surveillance aircraft, with the focus now shifting to the acquisition of a smaller, more affordable plane.
As a stop-gap measure, the Royal Canadian Air Force will upgrade additional Aurora CP-140 surveillance planes.
Canadian Defence Minister announced March 19 that Canada was upgrading four more Auroras, bringing the total of modernized surveillance aircraft to 14. The Auroras were originally purchased in 1981, and the Air Force now expects the planes to keep flying until 2030.
Over the last decade, other Auroras have received new wings and upgraded radars and sensors.
The Aurora US military equivalent is the P-3 Orion.
Airbus Military has provided information to the Air Force on the use of its C-295 aircraft to fill the role of a medium-sized maritime surveillance aircraft. Airbus Military officials also have pointed out to the Canadians that Chile has acquired the C-295 in an anti-submarine warfare configuration.
Boeing and Field Aviation of Toronto are also working on what company officials call a “P-8 light.” That maritime surveillance aircraft would be based on a Bombardier Challenger 605 airframe but use technology developed for the P-8A Poseidon.
The new work will involve the installation of upgraded avionics and missions systems, such as the Link 16 datalink, beyond-line-of-sight satellite communications capability and an improved self-defense system.
The aircraft also will be structurally overhauled with new wings and a tail.
In 2012, Boeing made a presentation to the Canadian Air Force, pointing out it could purchase a fleet of P-8As but the RCAFdetermined that the P-8A was unaffordable.