RCAF replacing planes used for prime minister’s travel, refuelling aircraft

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) will be getting two Airbus A330-200 aircraft to replace part of its aging CC-150 Polaris fleet, the Department of National Defence (DND) announced Thursday — a fleet that includes Can Force One, the VIP aircraft used to transport the prime minister, the Governor General and other VIPs.

The final contract for the two planes is valued at $102 million US and was awarded to the International Airfinance Corporation, a DND news release says.

The planes, which were manufactured in 2015, will replace CC-150 Polaris aircraft, which the RCAF has flown since 1992. The planes conduct most of the RCAF’s air-to-air refuelling.

“After nearly 30 years of outstanding service, the RCAF is looking to the future of this crucial capability,” the news release says.

The VIP aircraft used to transport the prime minister and the Governor General on trips abroad is a modified CC-150 Polaris.

DND says in the release that the newly-acquired planes “will play an integral role in providing air-to-air refuelling, strategic airlift, aeromedical evacuations, and strategic Government of Canada personnel transport, including transport of the Prime Minister, Governor General, and others, for decades to come.”

The acquisition is part of the government’s Strategic Tanker Transport Capability project, a procurement project to replace the CC-150 Polaris. The government is looking to buy six planes in total.

The Airbus A330-200 is a commercial plane. Airbus will be modifying the two aircraft to meet the military’s needs, the DND news release says.

DND says the replacement aircraft “will provide the RCAF with increased flexibility, allowing planners to select the most appropriate aircraft for a specific airlift mission, and it will increase the RCAF’s ability to respond to unexpected operational requirements, such as domestic or international emergencies or humanitarian relief missions.”

Defence Minister Anita Anand said the Airbus A330-200 was chosen for its capabilities and value.

“The Government of Canada is committed to providing the Canadian Armed Forces with the equipment they need at the best value for money. We look forward to accepting these two aircraft as they represent an important first step in eventually replacing the capability currently provided by the CC150 Polaris fleet,” she said in the news release.

The government estimates the two planes will arrive in winter 2023.