The Trudeau government has decided: it will award Boeing a $9 billion contract, without a call for tenders, to buy 16 P-8A Poseidon planes, to replace the fleet of CP planes -140 Royal Canadian Aurora surveillance. Air Force (RCAF), known The Press.
- The Royal Canadian Air Force needs to replace its aging CP-140 Aurora surveillance planes.
- This contract of up to 9 billion will be awarded without a call for tenders by Boeing.
- Bombardier wanted a chance to compete with its American competitor.
This decision, which risks causing a political backlash in Quebec, will be announced Thursday by three federal cabinet ministers: Bill Blair (Defence), Jean-Yves Duclos (Public Services and Procurement) and François- Philippe Champagne (Innovation, Science and Industry) . To try to calm the discontent, we must announce that the American giant will build a research and development center in the Montreal region.
Ottawa is preparing to ignore requests from Bombardier and other industry heavyweights – such as the Canadian subsidiary of General Dynamics – as well as unions representing aerospace workers, who have called for a call for the tender. manufacturer to compete with Boeing. For many months, Bombardier has reiterated that it can create a surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, therefore able to launch torpedoes, which are in the latest technology, less expensive to operate and time .
It is a militarized version of the Global 6500 private jet, assembled in the Toronto area. Unlike Boeing’s Poseidon, the plane proposed by the Quebec multinational is only a prototype for now. This apparently worked against the company, which is banking heavily on the defense sector as part of its recovery. The private jet manufacturer has already delivered aircraft exclusively specialized in surveillance missions to customers such as the United States and Germany.
The election of the Trudeau government sends a strange signal. On the one hand, it favors Boeing within its borders, but wants to help Bombardier sell militarized aircraft internationally. Last week, the Canadian Commercial Corporation, whose mandate is to help Canadian companies access “foreign public markets,” announced its intention to support the Quebec plane manufacturer.
“The memorandum of understanding offers governments the opportunity to acquire this new government-to-government multi-mission aircraft and aims to contribute to the development of trade between Canada and other countries,” it was announced.
In an interview with The Presson October 26, the president and CEO of Bombardier, Éric Martel, confirmed that “three or four countries” are interested in the military aircraft produced by his company.
Government and aerospace industry sources confirmed the The Press that the decision in favor of Boeing was made at a Cabinet meeting last week. This decision must be approved by Treasury Board committee members during a special meeting Tuesday night in Ottawa. This committee is chaired by the President of the Treasury Board, Anita Anand. Minister Jean-Yves Duclos acted as vice-president. The Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, also sat there.
Strategy is ready
The Trudeau government’s strategy to try to pass the pill in Quebec, where the Legault government has publicly requested a call for tenders, is ready, according to internal notes prepared for this meeting and that. The Press was able to consult.
It explains in particular that Ottawa fears that Bombardier will not be able to produce the plane in a reasonable time and that this will harm the Department of National Defense, which may find itself without surveillance plane beyond the period of 2030, when the geopolitical context is very volatile It also pointed out that the Boeing offer expires at the end of the month, this week, and that the costs of the purchase of Poseidon will increase if a decision is not made on November 30. In addition, without new orders, Boeing may stop assembling the P-8A after 2025.
Boeing aircraft are assembled in the United States, but many companies located in Quebec and other parts of Canada are involved as suppliers. Among them, we find the Quebec specialist in flight simulators CAE, GE Aviation, which operates a factory in Bromont, as well as the engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, well established on the South Shore of Montreal. Poseidon is also in the service of the “Five Eyes”, an alliance of intelligence services from five countries including Canada.
James Fryer, a defense sector analyst based in Toronto, shares some of Ottawa’s fears. In an analysis recently published in the publication Frontline specializing in military issues, he emphasized that Bombardier’s Global 6500 has never flown with systems or weapons intended for anti-submarine warfare missions.
“A potential buyer cannot (yet) assess how adding a torpedo compartment or adding wing equipment will affect weight, center of gravity or aerodynamics,” he wrote. If Bombardier believes that it can provide a better option than the P-8, it is worth asking why it did not try to sell the concept to other potential users of this aircraft, such as the United Kingdom, l Australia, New Zealand, Norway, India or Germany. »
In government notes, Ottawa also acknowledged the risk of legal action from Bombardier and General Dynamics – an option discussed by the two companies in a letter sent to a group of ministers. But behind the scenes calculation is that the costs in such a case are lower than launching a call for tenders.