Bombardier partners with General Dynamics on platform that meets Canada’s Multi-Mission Aircraft requirements

By Dayna Fedy-MacDonald | May 18, 2023

Estimated reading time 7 minutes, 31 seconds.

Bombardier Defense on May 18 announced it is collaborating with General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada on a next-generation multi-mission and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft that will meet the requirements set by the Canadian government for the Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft (CMMA) project.

The two companies, which together form “Canada’s Multi-Mission Aircraft Team,” are calling on the Canadian government to “open a competitive, fair, and transparent procurement process that will ultimately allow for Canadian innovation to thrive.”

Bombardier and General Dynamics plan to build upon Bombardier’s Global 6500 platform to offer to Canada to replace its CP-140 Aurora fleet. Bombardier Image

The team plans to build upon Bombardier’s Global 6500 platform for its offering to Canada to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) fleet of 14 CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft.

Bombardier’s announcement with General Dynamics comes nearly two months after the Canadian government submitted a letter of request to the U.S. government for the acquisition price of 16 Boeing-built P-8A Poseidon aircraft to replace the Aurora fleet. As well, the government said based on feedback from a request for information issued to the defense and aerospace industry in February 2022, it concluded that the P-8 is “the only currently available aircraft that meets all of the operational requirements” for the CMMA project.

Prior to this, in January, Bombardier issued a statement calling for the CMMA tender to consider a “Canadian-built option.” Despite what the federal government said about the P-8 in March, it appears that Bombardier is not going down without a fight.

“The published CMMA procurement timeframe was prudently designed by the Department of National Defence to permit the Government of Canada to fully engage with industry to explore options to meet Canada’s multi-mission aircraft needs and to have sufficient time to evaluate options,” noted Bombardier.  

The OEM said the Global 6500 platform “will host General Dynamics’ best-in-class integrated mission systems, drawing directly from Canada’s investment in the newly modernized CP-140 Block IV and CH-148 Cyclone.”

General Dynamics delivered the CP-140 Aurora Incremental Modernization Project which, along with the Aurora Structural Life Extension Project, will extend the operational life of the aircraft into the 2030s — and keep it “at the leading edge of ASW capabilities,” the company said.

According to Bombardier, the Global 6500 is the right CMMA platform thanks to its “next-generation engines, long range, high endurance, proven reliability, better fuel efficiency, and 24/7 worldwide support infrastructure.” Moreover, Bombardier has continued to emphasize the fact that it is a Canadian company, and the Global 6500 is a “made-in-Canada aircraft.”

However, some Canadians believe that although the Global 6500 is built locally, it could end up being more expensive than the P-8 Poseidon. In response to those comments, Bombardier’s CEO Eric Martel said: “We should keep in mind that business jets are less expensive to operate than commercial airliners, not to mention the reduced environmental footprint of a smaller aircraft. Moreover, a Canadian-built option for CMMA would be an investment in our Canadian workforce and would drive innovation within our borders.   

Jean-Christophe Gallagher (left), executive vice president of aircraft sales and Bombardier Defense, and Joel Houde, vice president and general manager of General Dynamics Mission Systems–International, sign a memorandum of understanding. Bombardier Photo

“Let’s be clear — Canadians earning salaries in Canada would be building the aircraft itself,” he continued. “This wouldn’t just be a case of economic offset agreements; the government would stimulate its national workforce directly by working through Bombardier.”

While Martel raises some interesting points, he does not address the fact that the Global 6500 would require significant airframe modifications to deliver on Canada’s requirements; particularly, the aircraft would require a weapons bay — which is already present on Boeing’s P-8. This could mean a time-consuming, expensive development program.

Boeing has touted its P-8 platform’s “off-the-shelf, out-of-the-box capability” across all 13 of Canada’s requirements, and remains competitive on the topic of contributing to the Canadian economy. Boeing has established “Team Poseidon,” consisting of Canadian aerospace companies CAE, GE Aviation Canada, IMP Aerospace & Defence, KF Aerospace, Honeywell Aerospace Canada, and Raytheon Canada.

Concerns have also been raised about the fact that, if chosen by Canada, the Global 6500 CMMA platform would be an orphan aircraft — meaning Canada would be the only Five Eyes nation operating the plane, which is similar to what happened with the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter. Canada learned many lessons with the Cyclone as an orphan aircraft, especially when it comes to supportability when deployed abroad. The CC-295 Kingfisher serves as yet another example of lessons learned by Canada when it comes to making significant modifications to an aircraft platform, as the Kingfisher’s initial operating capability has been delayed by six years.

Boeing has presented the P-8 Poseidon for the Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft project to replace the CP-140 Aurora.

The P-8 Poseidon does not run this risk, as it is based on Boeing’s 737NG platform and has an established global supply chain for logistical support.

Currently, there are more than 150 P-8 aircraft in service around the world.

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  1. Must be terrifying for Bombardier to realise they wont have access to government funding and the opportunity to soak the Canadian taxpayer. The last time they tried to build something new it cost Canadian taxpayers over $7B and even then they had to sell the project to Airbus before it was salvaged. None of the other 5 eyes nations have ordered this aircraft but have instead opted for the P-8A so enough of this nonsense.

    1. They just love government handouts, how they have no shame in themselves. How many years must Canadian taxpayers endure this? What they are are asking for is R&D money for something they don’t have and want. It will never match the P-8 in a 100 years.

    2. Why do you want an aerospace company that designed the best business’ jet of 2010s(would have built if not for Trump tariff) to go down. I know bombardier might be punching over the weight maybe we can give them a chance and unlike stated in the article the Cyclone helicopters are really good and built Lockheed Martin who is also planning to built an Airforce 1 jet off Cyclone’s design.

  2. I personally don’t know how after foolishness like black Friday and the shame that I personally and all canadian should feel by not letting our innovations fly ! Ever ! What do we have, penicillin, an outdated arm in space and John Candy. Honest to God it’s s sin that we had to have our wrist slapped to protect out own boarders with the f 35 which no doubt the “tax payers” will ruin in due time. Now new friggets coming… until people like “Ron” put an end to that too… and we have a chance at developing something special here in house but because Ron and Karen are what ? Straining? No doubt retired sitting home contributing nothing to society but negativity and talks about the glory days and how wise they are how they know what the country needs. News flash… the deficits arnt getting paid. Not today… probably not ever. Your not fixing anything. But you don’t mind paying for global warming I’m guessing. Tax … for global warming … Shake your heads, and let your Canadian pride shine.

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