After losing a major contract to Boeing at home, Canadian aerospace giant Bombardier Inc. has won a new deal to sell the U.S. Army up to three of its Global Express 6500 business jets so they can be transformed into an American spy plane prototype.
Bombardier won the U.S. Army deal in mid-December, but it became public only after New Year’s Day.
If the Army acquires all three Global Express 6500 jets, it could be worth up to $224.6 million for Montreal-based Bombardier at aircraft list prices.
The Quebec jet maker’s win came just two weeks after Bombardier lost a US$5.9-billion Canadian program and order for maritime patrol and reconnaissance airplanes to Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon jets. Bombardier subsequently indicated it wouldn’t contest or further protest that sole-source contract.
The U.S. Army’s Contracting Command publicly unveiled its own fixed-price, sole source contract with Bombardier for the twin-engine Global Express 6500 business jets on Jan. 3.
Under the contract won by Bombardier Defense, the jet maker has one firm aircraft sale to be delivered by Oct. 1, 2024. The deal gives the U.S. Army options to buy two more of the business jets by 2027, the military said in a terse announcement.
In a statement on social media, Bombardier said it “was honoured” to land the U.S. Army contract.
Michel Merluzeau, director of aerospace and defence market analysis at AIR Intelligence and Research LLC, said the U.S. Army spy plane prototype win involves a micro defence program compared with the much larger Boeing P-8 airplane and program sold to Canada and other NATO allies.
But he said every airplane sale helps a smaller jet maker like Bombardier, which also unveiled an order for a dozen more smaller business jets three days before Christmas.
“The Global Express 6500 is a great airplane that flies high and fast,” Merluzeau said. “It offers buyers the capability to add a lot of electronics and systems. Bombardier is a known entity with the U.S. military and NATO and their 6500 is a pretty tried and tested system.”
Boeing’s Winnipeg-based factory to be expanded, company to double storage capacity
With a base price of around US$56 million each, the deal could bring Bombardier as much as US$168 million, or C$224.6 million, worth of new revenue, and possibly more depending on the features and accessories the U.S. Army orders.
Different parts of the Global Express 6500 jet are made across the M0ntreal and Greater Toronto regions, and it is assembled in Mississauga.
Get the latest National news.
Sent to your email, every day.
Though a smaller victory, it is a prestigious one for Bombardier.
The Global Express 6500 aircraft will help usher the U.S. Army’s aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities into a new era.
The Global Express 6500 is equipped with new Rolls Royce engines, can carry between 11 and 17 passengers and can stay in the air for as long as 18 hours at a time.
The jet has a range of 12,223 nautical kilometres (6,000 nautical miles) and can fly at a top speed of 956 km an hour, and at high altitudes, making it attractive to defense officials for surveillance and intelligence gathering missions using special gear installed onboard.
Canada reaches $5.9B USD deal to replace aging Aurora military fleet with Boeing aircraft: Blair
The U.S. Army is revamping its airborne surveillance and electronic warfare systems and aircraft assets as its relations with China and Russia have soured and military tensions increased amid rising threats.
The U.S. Army said it will use the Global Express 6500 jets for its so-called “High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System,” also known as HADES. The Army will take the bare bones aircraft from Bombardier and make modify its systems and interior to make room for signals intelligence gathering equipment, sensors, and other military electronic systems and military work stations for army staffers.
“HADES will bring the Army increased range, speed, endurance and aerial ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) depth,” said Col. Joe S. Minor, project manager for Army fixed-wing aircraft, in the U.S. Army statement. “HADES will operate at higher altitudes than legacy turboprop platforms. Higher altitudes equate to an ability to sense farther and more persistently into areas of interest. Deep sensing is the Army’s number-one operational imperative for the Army of 2030.
The U.S. Army is also trying out other rival prototype spy jets, including some that have already flown more than 1,000 sorties in Europe and Asia, before making a decision to launch a new high altitude aerial surveillance program in 2025.
The new jets the U.S. Army ultimately picks after the prototype trials will replace its aging fleet of 14 turboprop spy planes, known as Guardrail Common Sensor ISR Aircraft.
The Guardrails are modified versions of Beechcraft RC-12s and are Cold War era signals intelligence airplanes. It has become difficult for the U.S. Army to obtain spare parts for this fleet nowadays.
Pentagon looks to exoskeletons to build ‘super-soldiers’
© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.