By The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The federal government says it has signed a contract with European aviation company Airbus to replace its aging Polaris fleet at a cost of $3.6 billion.
The Royal Canadian Air Force uses the Polaris planes for transporting high-ranking government officials, including the prime minister and Governor General, as well as for air-to-air refuelling and transport.
The new fleet, which will be named the CC-330 Husky, includes four new and five used aircraft that are being outfitted to feature the same capabilities.
The government bought the used planes from a company in Kuwait, and two of them are expected to begin flying out of Ottawa this fall.
The Husky planes will be able to perform refuelling for Canada’s NATO allies, including for F-35 fighter jets, and will be able to conduct medical transports.
The current Polaris fleet’s lifespan is slated to end in 2027, and the government says updating the planes to keep them in the air longer than that would be extremely difficult.