Ottawa poised to buy additional C-17 cargo jet as Boeing closes assembly line

The Harper government has signed off on a proposal to buy an additional C-17 Globemaster, bringing to five the number of heavy-lift transport planes in the air force's arsenal.

OTTAWA — The Harper government has signed off on a proposal to buy an additional C-17 Globemaster, bringing to five the number of heavy-lift transport planes in the air force’s arsenal.

Multiple defence sources say the decision to acquire the aircraft was made recently, but has not yet been announced as officials are still hammering out the contract details.

The Canadian air force has been pushing for the deal for over two years, telling senior officials that there is “a strong operational and business case” for a additional aircraft given how much use the fleet has gotten since it was introduced in 2007.

Earlier this year, The Canadian Press reported that National Defence believed it could afford the estimated US $169-million price tag because it had not spent all of the funds made available for the initial purchase of four C-17s.

Documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show the department had allocated $1.8 billion to complete the first purchase, but only $1.4 billion was spent.

There is urgency because Boeing stopped production on the workhorse aircraft last summer, and published reports in the U.S. indicate as many as 10 of the gigantic planes were up for sale.