VICTORIA, British Columbia — The Canadian military will start receiving in 2026 Boeing-made P-8A Poseidons it is buying through a deal worth $5.9 billion.
Canadian cabinet ministers, including Defence Minister Bill Blair, made the official announcement Thursday, but defense observers had long expected it after Canada earlier this year requested from the U.S. pricing on the P-8.
Canada will initially acquire 14 of the planes with the option to buy two additional P-8s at a later date.
Blair said the aircraft should be all delivered by the fall of 2027 and the fleet fully operational by 2033.
The P-8A will replace Canada’s current maritime patrol aircraft, the CP-140 Aurora, which has been in service for more than 40 years.
Blair said Thursday during a news conference in Ottawa that it has become increasingly difficult for Canada’s military to maintain the CP-140 fleet because of its age. “It has reached its limit,” Blair said.
He noted the Boeing plane is a proven capability operated by Canada’s “Five Eyes” allies: the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Blair said Canada did not want to take a risk and look at aircraft now under development.
There will be additional spending on new infrastructure, weapons and simulators for the P-8, he added.
Boeing will be expected to provide investment in Canadian industry equivalent to the value of the contract it is receiving, federal government officials said at a background briefing.
The Royal Canadian Air Force uses the CP-140 on operations around the world, including for hunting submarines and detecting security threats such as illegal fishing, drug trafficking, and polluters along the Canadian coastlines.
Blair noted Canada’s newly acquired CC-330 Husky refueling aircraft fleet will be able to refuel the P-8A.
He told reporters the P-8s will come as Canada is facing increasing threats, particularly in the Arctic. “We are seeing a more aggressive posture from our potential adversaries such as Russia and China,” he added.
The Canadian military had originally planned a competition starting in 2024 to replace the CP-140 Auroras. Bids were to have been submitted in 2027. Both Boeing, with its P-8, and Canadian firm Bombardier, with its special mission Global 6500 aircraft, were interested in competing.
But in a surprise move in March 2023, Canada requested pricing from the U.S. government for a fleet of 16 P-8s. Public Services and Procurement Canada, the federal contracting department, announced the P-8 was the only aircraft that could meet Canada’s needs.
In June, the State Department approved the sale to Canada of 16 P-8A aircraft and related equipment at an estimated cost of $5.9 billion.
That sparked a campaign of political lobbying by Bombardier and its partners, which include General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada.
Boeing, in a news release Thursday, noted it has 81 Canadian-based suppliers contributing already to the P-8. In addition, it has partnerships with key Canadian firms such as CAE and Raytheon Canada, the firm said.
“The P-8 will bolster Canada’s defense capability and readiness, and we look forward to delivering this capability to the Royal Canadian Air Force,” Heidi Grant, president of business development for Boeing’s defense business, said in the news release. “Together with our Canadian partners, we will deliver a strong industrial and technological benefit package that guarantees continued prosperity to Canada’s aerospace and defense industry.”
David Pugliese is the Canada correspondent for Defense News.