The U.S. army says Bombardier Inc. has won a contract to supply up to three Global 6500 business jets for conversion into a spy plane prototype.

The announcement comes barely a month after the Canadian government rejected Bombardier’s pitch for an open bid to replace the air force’s aging patrol planes, with the contract going to American rival Boeing Co. in a sole-source deal.

The Montreal-based jet maker has touted the Global 6500 as the basis for a fully-fledged surveillance aircraft it hopes to start rolling off the line in the early 2030s.

Bombardier’s agreement with the Pentagon includes one jet with options for two more, which would be installed with signals intelligence equipment, screen banks and other electronic systems under a new aerial reconnaissance program known as HADES.

Figures were not disclosed, but the nearly $75-million list price of a new Global 6500 means a three-plane purchase could top $224 million, with delivery of the first set for Oct. 1.

In November, Defence Minister Bill Blair called Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon planes “the only choice” for Canada, given their submarine-hunting technology, ready availability and interoperability with NATO allies' military gear.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2024.