Canada will need more of upgraded Auroras

The upgraded systems on Canada’s CP-140 Aurora may make it one of the most capable multi-mission long range patrol aircraft currently in existence, but the Air Force Association of Canada warns there may not be enough of them to do the job.

The CP-140 Aurora is the country’s premier strategic C4ISR platform and is currently undergoing a three-phase modernization program to replace outdated navigation and communications systems and introduce new sensor systems for a range of tasks from electro-optical and infra-red (EO/IR) surveillance, electronic warfare support (ESM), radar imaging, magnetic anomaly detection and data management. The modernization project also includes a service life extension program.

But the service-life upgrade applies to just 10 of the 18 aircraft currently in the fleet, and AFAC worries that without an Aurora replacement program in place, Canada’s C4ISR capabilities could be significantly degraded by the end of the decade.

While there has been some discussion about replacing the CP-140 with a comparable multi-mission aircraft, AFAC says “it appears increasingly doubtful that the defence budget will allow acquisition of such an aircraft before non-ASLEP CP-140s run out of available service life.” It adds that those same budget reductions could delay the introduction of other surveillance systems such as unmanned capability.

Consequently, the association is calling on the government to “upgrade as many of the available CP-140s as possible” to ensure a sizeable fleet is able to operate through 2025 – 2030. “Canada has made a significant investment over the past decade to modernize the CP-140’s avionics and sensor systems,” their position paper states. “As a result, the aircraft has capabilities which now match or exceed those of the most technologically advanced ISR platforms available to Western military forces.” Upgrading as many of the 18 as possible will ensure that technological edge.

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