Canada has pulled out of talks on joining the US-led Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) programme, and instead plans to extend the life of its Lockheed Martin CP-140 Auroras until 2025, writes Andrej Jeziorski.

Ottawa withdrew from the negotiations on 7 July, the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) says. “The new defence policy has realigned the department’s priorities. Therefore, the department has decided not to pursue this initiative at this time,” the DND says. The Canadian decision follows a similar move by Australia because of an escalating crisis in defence spending.

Canada has 18 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft, these unique versions of the P-3 Orion having entered service in 1980. The aircraft are being upgraded under the C$1.5 billion ($1.2 billion) Aurora Incremental Modernisation Programme, a series of 23 systems upgrades to be completed on 16 aircraft over about 10 years.

“Currently, the third block of projects, comprised of the mission computer and sensors, is scheduled to be completed near the end of 2010,” the DND says. “The department has initiated a structural life-extension programme for the CP-140 Aurora that will extend the aircraft’s estimated life expectancy to 2025.”

Boeing had offered Australia, Canada and Italy each more than $500 million of work on its P-8A MMA on the condition that they sign up for the programme, investing $300 million each in the system development and demonstration phase. The manufacturer had tried to gather international partnerships prior to the project’s preliminary design review in September.

Based on the 737-800ERX airframe, up to 108 P-8As will be acquired to replace the US Navy’s P-3C Orions.

Source: Flight International