The CP-140 Aurora is
Canada’s only strategic airborne land and sea
surveillance aircraft. A “Siamese-twins” platform of
sorts, the Aurora combined the sturdy P3 Orion
airframe and the S3 Viking ASW avionics package into
a distinctly Canadian military platform. Acquired
in 1980 amidst the need for a state-of-the-art
antisubmarine warfare (ASW) platform to replace the
CP107 Argus, 18 Aurora’s were equipped with the most
advanced ASW package in the West at that time.
With the end of the
Cold War, the Aurora, with its impressive range of
over 9,000 kilometres, reduced its ASW duties to
take up the role of the long-range patrol aircraft
for the Canadian military. To this day the Aurora
performs maritime patrol duties on a regular basis
and monitors, albeit on a more infrequent basis,
Canada’s Arctic waters for trespassers.
Yet, the frequency of
its use in patrol missions has been hindered in
recent years due to a stark reduction in allocated
yearly flying rates (13,241 hrs in 1996-97; 7,874
hrs in 2003-04). Also, despite many attempts to
implement upgrades to its avionics during the first
20 years of its service, budgetary restrictions
meant that the Aurora’s systems of mid-1970s mission
computers and sensors began to reach obsolescence.
Starting in 1998, the
Aurora Incremental Modernization Program (AIMP) was
begun by the Department of National Defence to bring
the Aurora, as Canada’s frontline long-range patrol
apparatus, into the 21st century so that
it could continue to perform safely in its
traditional maritime roles, as well as expand to new
roles such as over-land surveillance,
reconnaissance, and intelligence-gathering. Such
tasks would become regular for the Aurora platform
following the September 11th attacks both
at home and through its deployment to the mysterious
overseas Canadian Forces base, CAMP MIRAGE, to
support Operation Apollo (the Canadian military
mission in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2003).
At a cost of $1.45
billion CAD and due to be completed by 2010, the
AIMP is divided into four distinct blocks of
upgrades, combining a total of 23 individual
projects. It is an important program for the 18
Auroras, many of which are surpassing the 20,000
individual flying hour plateau, and all of which
remain in service without incident to this day.
the high frequency radio gear, cockpit voice
recorder, flight data recorders, and SRX antennae
associated components (SRX is a technology that
increases the range of the antenna).
Capability Group of systems (such as the flight
direction indicator, global-positioning system, and
Aircraft Collision Avoidance System) will be
upgraded during this block of the AIMP.
Upgrade of the
Communications Capability Group through three new
VHF/UHF radios, VHF/FM modernization, and a new
satellite-communications-based radio will be
performed. Furthermore, the Data Management System
and Sensor Capability Group will also be upgraded.
This block is planned
to incorporate a new defensive early warning system
(DEWS) and a stand-off air-to-surface missile
system. Extensive software upgrades to Block III
components will also be performed.
Note: There are also
three CP-140A Arcturus aircraft, acquired in the
early 1990s, in service with the Canadian Forces.
These aircraft are the same as the Aurora, except
lacking its extensive ASW suite.
source: Department of National
(max gross wt.)
Mk. 46 Mod
V anti-submarine torpedoes; can also be
retrofitted to carry anti-shipping
Quantity in the Canadian Forces
Comox and 14 Wing Greenwood