Canada announced a contract for 70 training aircraft from across five airframe fleets at a value of $11.2bn (C$8.17bn) on 29 May 2024, to be procured from SkyAlyne Canada Limited Partnership for the Future Aircrew Training (FAcT) programme.

The status of future Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) training had been in question since March 2024, as the fast-jet training programme entered a multi-year hiatus, with Nato programmes across the Euro-Atlantic taking on Canadian pilots. The newly announced investment includes airframes and training, with instruction scheduled to begin in Spring 2029. 

The 25-year FAcT programme will acquire more than 70 training aircraft, including:  the Airbus Helicopters H-135; the Beechcraft King Air 260; the De Havilland Dash 8-400 equipped with a mission training system in the cabin; the Grob G120TP; and the Pilatus PC-21.

This investment is part of the largest recapitalisation of the RCAF since WWII, and adds to the approximately 140 aircraft Canada has finalised procurement of since 2022, which include F-35 fighters and P-8A Posiedon multi-mission aircraft. 

“Today’s investments demonstrate that when we work collaboratively with Canadian industry partners, we can provide our troops with the tools that they need to do their jobs – and support good jobs right across Canada,” said Minister of National Defence Bill Blair. “With these projects, and through our renewed vision for defence, Our North, Strong and Free, we are committed to building an even stronger relationship with industry, founded on transparency and trust.”

Canada’s rapid expansion of its air capability will be supported by the purchase of trainer aircraft from SkyAlyne, and by the contract line items for classroom instruction, simulator and flight training, as well as support activities for a range of RCAF roles, that includes pilots, air combat systems officers, and airborne electronic sensor operators. 

The FAcT training programme will replace in-house training delivered by the RCAF, as well replacing as a $4.6bn 25-year contract with Nato that was due to expire in 2028, and a $1.18bn contract with Allied Wings that was due to expire in 2027. 

Royal Canadian Air Force Commander Lieutenant-General Eric Kenny framed the FAcT as an investment in RCAF personnel: “Nothing is more important than our people. We must modernise our training systems as we are modernising our front-line equipment and weapons systems. 

“The Future Aircrew Training program will do that by incorporating the latest training concepts and technologies and adapting to emerging trends to ensure Royal Canadian Air Force personnel can operate and win in highly contested and increasingly complex theatres of operation.”

According to a release from the Canadian Ministry of National Defence, the FAcT programme is anticipated to contribute $405m annually to Canada’s GDP over its 25 year duration, and create or maintain 3,400 jobs. 

Logistics Vehicle Modernisation programme moves forward

During the same announcement from Defence Minister Blair at the Canadian Association of Defence and Security, investment of up to $2.58bn in logistic vehicles was made public, with delivery expected to begin in Autumn 2027. 

Contracts for more than 1,000 light trucks and approximately 500 heavy trucks awarded to General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada in a joint venture with Marshall Canada, as part of the Logistics Vehicle Modernisation (LVM) programme. A second contract for 25-year support of the fleet was also awarded.

Sub-contractors include Mercedes Benz, and Soframe, as well as Canadian sub-contractors GDLS-Canada, Marshall Canada, K-Line Trailers, and Manac.

The LVM programme is intended to provide increased mobility and protection for Canadian Armed Forces personnel, and to transport larger loads of equipment and supplies. The new vehicles will replace the current fleet light support vehicles, heavy logistics vehicles, and heavy engineer support vehicles, that have all even in use since the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Canada’s Minister of Public Services and Procurement Jean-Yves Duclos noted the benefit of the FAcT investment to the Canadian economy, stating the contracts will “create highly skilled jobs and further contribute to the growth and competitiveness of Canada’s defence industry.”

Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne highlighted the wider impact of the FAcT investment on the Canadian defence-industrial base, saying that through the Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy the investments “not only strengthen our defence capabilities but also nurture the leadership of Canadian supply chains, fostering job creation and economic prosperity for years to come.”

The Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy requires companies to make investments and provide business activities in Canada equal to the value of the contract.