By: Colonel (retired) Pat Thauberger

Aircraft replacements always generate interest within the aerospace industry and the announcement of the Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft (CMMA) program in 2022 is no exception. The program, meant to replace the long-standing CP-140 Aurora with next-generation capabilities, was received with great interest by General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada, and our industry partners. The CMMA program so clearly favours Canada’s rich expertise in multi-mission capability that it is truly a generational opportunity to showcase Canada’s robust defence industry.

Since the Government of Canada’s Request for Information was released, General Dynamics has been working diligently with our domestic industry partners to propose a world-class Canadian-made capability. By drawing on previous development from the CP-140 Aurora modernization and CH-148 Cyclone development programs, General Dynamics is offering a low-risk, iterative option, that fully leverages previous Canadian investment. Our work on airborne anti-submarine warfare (ASW) includes our world-leading integrated suite of acoustics, datalink, and stores management systems. This solution combines those technologies with the latest in sensor and system suites, with which we already have experience, and integrates it all into our Mission Management System.  

General Dynamics has a deep history of excellence in supporting the Canadian Armed Forces and international partners in all aspects of mission systems design, development, integration, and support. Centrally directed from our facilities in Ottawa, we also have locations in Halifax, Calgary, and Sherbrooke. Our capabilities have been finely developed for over 75 years, through Canadian programs and a robust export market, all made possible by a workforce comprising hundreds of specialized software and systems engineers bolstered by technical and support staff. 

By leveraging ongoing research and development, our experience in recent export variants, and our expertise as the world-leader in submarine hunting technology, we are able to leapfrog over systems already in use by allies today. Our solution is not just for today’s operations but for the future of the Canadian Armed Forces. Preserving this core engineering capability in Canada will allow the CAF to readily influence the future development of the system. Just as Canada’s ‘ownership of the IP’ enabled the CP-140 Aurora to operate over land during the Vancouver Olympics and Iraq, this too will enable Canada to ensure its suitability for future emergent operations of Canadian interest. We are proposing a sovereign solution with better immediate performance for the CAF and significant export potential. As shown in a recent PwC report, a Canadian-made option would also generate ongoing long term economic benefits to Canada. 

General Dynamics and our partners have been heartened by the groundswell of pan-Canadian support from elected officials at all levels of government, as well as mainstream press, who have publicly stated their support for a fair, open, and transparent competition for the Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft. In a joint statement Premier of Quebec, François Legault, and Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, called on the federal government to allow the Canadian aerospace and defence sectors to “to compete in an open CMMA tender.” The government’s published CMMA procurement timeframe allows sufficient time for the Department of National Defence to fully engage with Canadian industry and give us the opportunity to showcase our unrivaled capabilities. The benefits of an open competition are clear – a Canadian option would drive aerospace innovation, energize the economy, support well-paying STEM jobs, and more. Canadian taxpayers deserve a fact-based decision to be made, with the best technology possible to keep Canada’s borders safe.

We eagerly look forward to demonstrating that our partner aircraft and mission systems exceed all of the High Level Mandatory Requirements, as well as the capabilities of our competition. We offer a more capable, more flexible mission system truly suited for multi-mission operations, in a higher performance and more fuel efficient business jet aircraft. An open procurement model would give the Canadian aerospace industry the opportunity to bolster Canadian innovations on the world stage and ensure the CMMA benefits Canadians.