Canadian American Strategic Review


Replacing the


 A  Modest

In Detail

DND 101

Background  –  Aurora Alternatives  –  Boeing P-8A Poseidon Project

Update –  Boeing also wants to develop a smaller-scale Maritime Surveillance Aircraft using P-8A Poseidon mission systems. Reportedly, an unspecified Bombardier 'mid-sized business jet' has been chosen as the platform. The MSA concept probably involves Global Express but there is also the lesser possibility (based on that 'business jet' description) that Boeing might have chosen the CSeries, a small airliner. This complicates matters for DND which, by 2009, was already seeking P-8A drawings/measurements for new hangars at CFB Greenwood.

Multi-mission  Maritime  Aircraft  –  an Airliner with Attitude
Boeing's P-8A Poseidon was winner of the Multi-mission Mari- time Aircraft (MMA) program  to replace US Navy P-3C Orions (equivalent to CF  CP-140 Auroras). US Navy announced in late 2004 that Canada was likely to be a P-8A development partner – this was based on Canadian expressions of interest but it is not clear whether that was on behalf of industry or the CF.  The P-8 is a large aircraft  –  Poseidon weighs 35% more than a P-3/CP-140 and is 10% larger physically. Boeing became MMA prime contractor in 2004 with contracts for 108 P-8As valued at US $20B.

By 2012, MMA systems development/demonstration will be complete. This test phase involves 7 airframes beginning with  the current demonstrator, a B737-800 ERX (left). The actual P-8As will combine features of the -800ERX and -900 and,  like those airliners, will be powered by the CFM56-7B. At present, no prototype P-8A exists but  this patrol aircraft is based on a well- established family of airliners in use across Canada – three variants of  the "Next Generation" B737s fly with Westjet, for example). The CFM56 engines are in even wider use in Canada. [1]

The downside for the P-8A is cost, both purchase and operational. The unit price projected under a Foreign Military Sales procurement is US $150M. [2]  P-8A fuel burn is said to be the same as the Orion. An impressive claim, a P-8A being much larger but fuel costs are working against the CP-140 Aurora fleet. The question is what options exist other than the P-8A?

  Boeing P-8A Poseidon  (MMA Project )   —   Specifications
  Dimensions:   span: 35.72m, length: 39.47 m, height: 12.8m
  Powerplant:   2 x 120 kN CFM Int'l  CFM56-7B turbofans
  Performance:   max speed: 907 km/h,  max cruise: 815 km/h
  Weights:   empty: 62730 kg,  MTOW: 85370 kg
  Maximum range:   2220 km radius (with four hours on station)
  Crew:   2 x flightcrew, 7 x mission systems operators
  Armament:   Torpedoes, cruise missiles, bombs, mines

[1] CFM International  CFM56-7 engines are specific to B737s but the similar CFM56-5 series equip Air Canada A319s, A320s, and  A340s.
[2] Based on Australian estimates related to their AIR 7000 Phase 2 requirement – an Aus $4B project (approx. Cdn $3.45B) to replace their AP-3C Orion fleet with a combo of MALE/HALE UAVs (similar to JUSTAS) and manned Maritime Patrol and Response Aircraft (MPRA).