The federal government is expected to confirm Wednesday the $4.6 billion purchase of 17 new Hercules transport planes to replace the air force's aging fleet.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Public Works Minister Michael Fortier will be in Ottawa to announce a deal has been signed with the U.S.-based aircraft manufacturer Lockheed-Martin.
More than a year ago, the Conservative government invoked a national security clause in procurement legislation and negotiated exclusively with the U.S. defence giant.
Delivery of the first C-130J Hercules — the new and upgraded version of the aging carrier — is expected within 36 months.
In 2006, then defence minister Gordon O'Connor launched a rearmament drive to replacement the C-130E and C-130H planes. Most were built more than 30 years ago and have been flown from the Arctic to Afghanistan.
The Hercules, considered one of the world's most successful military transports, can carry 17 tonnes of cargo or 90 soldiers with light equipment. Canada operates some of the oldest C-130s in military service anywhere.
The cost of the new aircraft includes $1.7 billion for a 20-year maintenance package. Canadian defence contractors have been upset that Lockheed would also be responsible for the maintenance contract.
But Public Works has been demanding that 75 per cent of the long-term maintenance work be carried out by Canadian defence contractors, the Canadian Press reported. The other 25 per cent can be done by U.S. firms.
MacKay and Fortier are expected to give themselves up to 12 months to negotiate the support deal, defence insiders told the Canadian Press.