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02 Feb 07. Reuters reported that Canada has signed a $3.4bn deal with U.S. firm Boeing to buy four C-17 Globemaster strategic airlift planes, the Conservative government said on Friday. Ottawa said last July that Boeing was the only firm that could supply the planes, the first of their kind Canada has owned. The planes will cost around $1.8bn while the rest of the contract comprises a 20-year service deal.

The purchases are the first slice of a $17bn defence package announced by the Conservatives last year.

“Canada will no longer have to join the international queue — negotiating against other countries for scarce commercial options — to fulfill its responsibilities,” the government said in a statement.

The engines will be made by United Technologies Pratt & Whitney unit.

Defense Minister Gordon O’Connor told a briefing that Boeing would deliver the first plane in August or September. In the past, when Canada needed to transport heavy equipment, it either borrowed planes from allies such as the United States or leased them from commercial operators.

The opposition Liberals say Canada has no need for such aircraft and could have spent the money better elsewhere.

“I just learned that NATO just bought three (of these planes) and we’re part of NATO,” said Denis Coderre, Liberal defence spokesman. “Maybe it would have been a great thing to say: ‘I’ll make a deal and lease (at) 48 hours notice’ … and we could have used those planes,” he told reporters.

Critics accuse Ottawa of changing the specifications at the last moment to ensure that only the Globemaster could win, a charge the government rejects.

Boeing is also likely to win a $4.7bn contract to supply medium- to heavy-lift helicopters and is in the running for a further $4.9bn purchase of 17 smaller tactical cargo planes.

Comment: Buy Boeing shares, this company cannot go wrong at the moment! If our readers examine the contracts place in 2007 alone, the figure is huge.

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