A US government report has revealed that the Boeing Poseidon P-8A that Canada is considering buying has failed in recent years due to sitting too long in a workshop. Its conclusions will encourage the opposition in the Commons to demand a formal tender, as Bombardier has already been asked to submit a bid.
At least 5 billion is at stake in the context of this contract, which can be granted over the counter to the American giant. Bombardier questions this way of doing things. The Quebec company is not asking to be awarded the contract. However, it seeks an opportunity to promote indigenously built private aircraft, which can be converted to carry out surveillance missions.
“If Boeing planes don’t meet US Navy maintenance standards, why would the Canadian government jump on those planes? asked curator Pierre Paul-Hus. There lies the problem. »
This former reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces believes the call for tenders is “urgent” because the bombardier can participate and that the Poseidon is not a “special product.”
53% to 70% available
The report in question comes from the Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General, an independent agency charged with overseeing the programs and operations of the American military. According to this 60-page document released in spring 2021, the Poseidon availability rate fluctuates between 53% and 70% from October 2018 to March 2020, but the US Navy requires its squadrons to show at least 80% performance.
The availability rate corresponds to the percentage of aircraft that are capable of performing missions and are not in the maintenance center.
According to the report, it is not the design of the P-8A — which is similar to Boeing’s 737 family of aircraft and can drop torpedoes — that is problematic, but the infrastructure that ensures its proper performance.
“Squadron maintenance personnel experienced delays in locating and receiving spare parts,” the report said, citing misfires while the aircraft was in the field.
In addition, it took time to rectify the situation, which contributed to the prolongation of the disturbances. Several sections of the report related to investigations have been redacted. Hence it is not possible to have an idea about all the identified disturbances.
About two weeks ago, Canada, which must replace the CP-140 Auroras that entered service in 1980, requested information from Washington on the purchase of 16 Poseidon aircraft.
Ottawa said it was not a firm order, but that observers had been consulted Press Think the opposite. In a statement, Public Services and Procurement Canada said the Royal Canadian Air Force’s “currently the only aircraft capable of meeting all operational requirements is the Boeing aircraft.”
If it materializes, the scenario would be considered “a high treason of aerospace in Quebec,” affirms bloquiste deputy Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay. The sector is “strategic”, he says, but “if it is to continue, it needs to be recognised”.
“We have all the components to assemble the aircraft from A to Z, the MP underlines. And to go and award a contract to an American company without calling for tenders for planes that do not meet maintenance standards is to shoot yourself in the foot. I think it’s worse. »
The story is similar to that of the New Democratic Party, where the political party’s deputy leader, Alexandre Bouleris, has already expressed his opposition to the over-the-counter contract with Boeing.
For request Press, Thomas Hughes, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for International and Defense Policy at Queen’s University, read the report from the Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General. In his opinion, the document testifies to the difficulties surrounding the integration of the new aircraft.
“It’s not like leaving your old car at the dealership and driving off with a new car,” says the expert. Canada should pay particular attention to all maintenance infrastructure logistics. »
Mr. Hughes points out that no device is capable of demonstrating a 100% uptime rate.
Although he thinks the Poseidon does not appear to have any risks in terms of its design, the expert acknowledges that there will be challenges in establishing an ecosystem capable of meeting the needs of a Boeing-built aircraft. If it is purchased by Ottawa.
The stakes are equal if Bombardier wins the contract. The Quebec aircraft manufacturer has begun delivering Globals to the US military. There is no report yet to document the aircraft’s reliability.
For its part, the Ministry of National Defense said it had read the report on Poseidon. Poseidon’s spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande said in an email that an ‘independent investigation’ had been conducted into the tactics implemented in Australia, the UK, Norway and New Zealand.
“This research confirms that the P-8A is sustainably capable and ready to meet Canada’s diverse mission requirements,” she wrote, without elaborating.
Boeing has delivered 158 of its US-assembled surveillance aircraft. The American aircraft maker currently has 183 orders. To continue, production depends on a “sufficient number of orders,” the multinational has already indicated.
Boeing is knocking on Washington’s door
In addition to what is happening in Canada, Boeing is relying on the US military to continue production of the Poseidon P-8As. Separate site Politico reported that Boeing has asked Washington to buy 10 copies of its aircraft at an estimated cost of 1.8 billion US, even though the US Navy does not need these planes. According to Politico, this will allow Boeing to continue assembling the P-8A while it waits for new orders. Recently, Bombardier’s president and CEO, Eric Martell, claimed that Canada would be cheated by an airplane “at the end of its life” by buying Boeing aircraft.
- The year the Canadian Armed Forces began retiring CP-140 Auroras
Source: Government of Canada
- Commencement of deliveries of new military surveillance aircraft
Source: Government of Canada