Canada has finalized a contract to acquire the first two aircraft that will replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) aging fleet of CC-150 Polaris. 

A contract valued at $102 million was awarded to International AirFinance Corporation for the procurement and preparation of two A330-200 commercial aircraft manufactured in 2015. The modification of the airframes into A330 MRTT multi-role aircraft according to military specifications will be completed through a contract between the Canadian government and Airbus. The aircraft are expected to enter service in winter 2023. 

The A330 MRTT is a multi-role aircraft, both a tanker and a carrier (freight and passengers) capable of carrying more than 100 tonnes of fuel and 43 tonnes of freight.  

“The Government of Canada is committed to providing the Canadian Armed Forces with the equipment they need at the best value for money,” Defense Minister Anita Anand said in a press release. “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.” 

Canada plans to eventually replace the Polaris fleet with six new aircraft under the Strategic Tanker Transport Capability program. In April 2021, Airbus Defence & Space Canada announced that the A330 MRTT had been chosen over the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus. 

The five CC-150s started their lives as regular Airbus A310s with the defunct Canadian carrier Wardair between 1987 and 1988. They entered service with the RCAF in 1992, filling various roles.  

The CC-150-01 was turned into “Can Force One” (or the “Taj Mahal”, as described by former prime minister Jean Chrétien) to transport the Canadian prime minister. Another two are used as regular troop and cargo transport. As for the fourth and fifth airframes, they were both converted into mid-air refuellers, based on the A310 MRTT. 

Based at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario, the aircraft are operated by the RCAF 437 Transport Squadron.  

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