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Canada has joined an international program which is expected to yield a new generation of maritime surveillance aircraft that will eventually replace platforms such as the extensively-upgraded CP-140 Auroras first deployed by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in the early 1980s.
The Department of National Defence confirmed in a statement that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, in Brussels for the latest North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) defence ministerial meeting, had signed a letter the previous day signalling Canada’s intent to join the Maritime Multi-Mission Aircraft (M3A) forum, where the allies would “share force development resources and knowledge, in the pursuit of maritime patrol aircraft recapitalization.”
Poland also confirmed plans to join France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey on developing follow-on solutions for aging fleets of maritime anti-submarine and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft which are becoming increasingly costly to maintain.
The original six began collaborating last June, hoping that a common approach could help to contain the cost of developing new aircraft.
“This joint effort recognizes the fact that the majority of allies’ maritime patrol aircraft fleets will be reaching the end of their operational lives between 2025 and 2035,” said NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller during the signing ceremony.
Gottemoeller, a United States career diplomat, said the eight countries now needed to push on to the implementation phase for the M3A.
“The goal here isn’t just a drawing board design,” she said. “We need a new generation of aircraft . . . fulfilling what is an increasingly important mission.”