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Minister Blair announces $850 million investment in CFB Trenton and welcomes new aircraft to the RCAF fleet

Minister of National Defence, Bill Blair, visited Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton, the home of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) air mobility operations in Canada. Minister Blair announced an investment of $850 million to upgrade CFB Trenton, so that it can host Canada’s new fleet of CC-330 Husky Strategic Tanker Transport Aircraft.

This $850 million investment will fund major airfield and infrastructure work at Trenton, including the development and design of a two-bay hangar, an upgraded apron and runway, taxiways,  and other supporting infrastructure. These upgrades will enable CFB Trenton to serve as the Eastern Main Operating Base for the new CC-330 Husky fleet.

Minister Blair noted that through the Strategic Tanker Transport Capability (STTC) Project, Canada is rapidly acquiring nine CC-330 Husky aircraft – almost doubling the size of the previous fleet. Two Husky aircraft have been delivered to Canada so far – the first one in 2023, and the second Husky (numbered 003) joined the CC-330 fleet on February 16, 2024.

Although currently configured for transport, the aircraft will eventually be converted to become a multi-role tanker transport aircraft. The CC-330 will provide the RCAF with increased flexibility to fulfill a variety of air mobility missions, including air-to-air refuelling, passenger transport, aeromedical evacuation, and strategic transport.

Minister Blair also welcomed a new aircraft to the Canadian Armed Forces fleet. The Minister toured the first of three new CE-145C Vigilance aircraft, which arrived in Trenton on February 23, 2024. The CE-145C Vigilance is a modified Beechcraft King Air 350ER turbo prop aircraft produced by L3 Harris in Texas, under the MAISR project. It will provide a new manned airborne intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (MAISR) capability for the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM). Equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and secure communications equipment, these aircraft will provide a vital new capability for the CAF, enabling enhanced situational awareness and decision-making during operations on the ground. The aircraft will primarily be used to support CAF operations.

Minister Blair noted that as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the RCAF, it is undergoing its largest transformation in a generation. Since 2022, the Government of Canada has finalized the procurement or upgrade of approximately 140 new or refurbished aircraft for the RCAF – including 88 new F-35 fighter jets9 CC-330 Husky Strategic Tanker Transport aircraftup to 16 new P-8A Poseidon multi-mission aircraft16 new or upgraded Cormorant helicopters; and 11 SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems. This represents a monumental recapitalization of the RCAF which will strengthen Canada’s contributions to NATO and NORAD, and improve the RCAF’s ability to protect Canada.

These projects are also creating significant economic benefits for Canada. The STTC project has the potential to create or maintain 1,050 jobs annually in Canada and contribute $145 million annually to GDP over the life of the contract. The acquisition and maintenance contracts for the MAISR project have the potential to create or maintain approximately 65 jobs annually, and contribute $7.5 million annually to Canada’s GDP over the life of the contract.

Minister Blair was accompanied by General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff; Lieutenant-General Eric Kenny, Commander of the RCAF and Brigadier-General Richard Schmidt, Deputy Commander of the CANSOFCOM.

Later today, Minister Blair is set to participate in a roundtable with women members of the Canadian Armed Forces to mark International Women’s Day and Women of Aviation Week.

“As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force, I am more confident than ever in its future. With new fleets of fighter jets, maritime patrol aircraft, tanker and transport aircraft, and more arriving throughout the next few years, we are building the Royal Canadian Air Force of tomorrow. These significant investments in our military will enable the RCAF to better defend Canada and strengthen Canada’s ability to contribute to our NORAD and NATO Alliances.”

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence

“Today, we welcome the arrival of a Manned Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft. This important delivery reinforces our government’s commitment to protecting Canada’s sovereignty and security. The acceptance of this aircraft is an exciting milestone for the Canadian Armed Forces, and marks an impressive 100 years of service for the Royal Canadian Air Force. We congratulate the Royal Canadian Air Force on their centennial, and we will continue our work to support members of the Canadian Armed Forces with the equipment they need to carry out domestic and international operations, while maximizing economic benefits to Canadian industry.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Public Services and Procurement

“Our government is providing the Canadian Armed Forces with the equipment it needs, while creating long-term economic benefits for Canadians through the agreements made with the industry. These procurements will advance Canadian innovation in our world-class aerospace and defence industries, create high-value jobs, and contribute to economic growth in Canada.”

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“The threat to Canada’s sovereignty and interests abroad, created by competition for global power and advancing technologies, remains as significant now as any time in our history. The Royal Canadian Air Force must be ready answer when our nation calls with a mission-ready, well-equipped, and combat-capable force.  These investments will help build a world-class RCAF that will continue to meet Canada’s air and space defence requirements for years to come as an agile, integrated and inclusive air and space force.”

Lieutenant-General Eric Kenny, Commander, Royal Canadian Air Force

“The delivery of the Vigilance aircraft provides the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command with enhanced surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that radically improves the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to understand the environments in which we operate and will be a critical enabler to mission success. We look forward to continuing to work closely our colleagues in the Royal Canadian Air Force as Vigilance is integrated into full service over the next year.”

Brigadier-General Richard Schmidt, Deputy Commander, Canadian Special Operations Forces Command


  • In total, nine CC-330 Husky aircraft will replace the RCAF’s current CC-150 Polaris fleet of five aircraft under the STTC project. STTC is funded by Canada’s 2017 defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, and Canada’s NORAD Modernization Plan, announced in June 2022, which is the largest investment in Canada’s NORAD capabilities in a generation.
  • The additional air-to-air refuelling aircraft funded by Canada’s $38.6 billion NORAD Modernization Plan will significantly increase the RCAF’s capacity, and enable the RCAF to enhance Canadian sovereignty operations, including the Arctic.
  • As Minister Blair announced today, the STTC’s Main Operating Base in Eastern Canada will be at CFB Trenton. We will also be designating a Main Operating Base in Western Canada in due course. Thanks to Canada’s NORAD Modernization Plan, the CC-330 Husky fleet will also be able to operate from select forward operating locations in Canada’s north.
  • Like Husky 002 that entered service in November 2023, Husky 003 will temporarily retain its commercial configuration, and will be used to perform troop and passenger airlift operations until it undergoes conversion into its future Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) configuration.
  • The STTC project awarded a contract to Airbus Defence and Space SAU in June 2023 valued at $3.6 billion (excluding taxes) for a fleet of nine aircraft. It includes the acquisition of four new Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft along with the conversion of five used A330-200 aircraft.
  • A total of five used and four new aircraft will be procured with deliveries of the full MRTT capability beginning in 2027 following conversion by Airbus Defence and Space in Spain.
  • Initial operational capability for the CC-330 Husky fleet is planned for 2028-2029, and Full Operational Capability will follow by 2032-2033.
  • The MAISR project is valued at $246.9 million (excluding taxes), and includes the acquisition of the aircraft and prime mission equipment, modifications to infrastructure, training and initial in-service support.
  • A long-term in-service support contract for the CE-145C Vigilance aircraft was awarded on April 21, 2021, to Team CERTAS, consisting of General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada from Ottawa, Ontario, and Voyageur Aviation Corporation from North Bay, Ontario. This contract has an initial value of $72 million (including taxes) for a period of eight years, with 15 one-year optional extension periods.
  • Delivery of the remaining two CE-145C Vigilance aircraft is expected in spring 2024, with Full Operational Capability expected approximately one year afterwards.
  • Through the Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) Policy, prime contractors on both the STTC and MAISR projects have committed to providing business activities in Canada equal to the value of the contracts. These economic commitments ensure opportunities for the broader Canadian supply chain, including small and medium-sized businesses, and promote innovation through investments in research and development.

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