OTTAWA - The federal government says Canada will spend $2.3 billion to replace the military's ancient search-and-rescue planes with 16 new aircraft from European aerospace giant Airbus.

Public Procurement Minister Judy Foote and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan made the announcement in CFB Trenton this morning.

Today's announcement has been a long time coming.

The effort to replace the air force's existing search-and-rescue planes, some of which have been flying since the 1960s, has been mired in controversy and delays for more than a decade.

Sajjan says the new C-295 planes are a game-changer when it comes to the military responding to distress calls and other emergencies around the country.

Foote says the contract will also benefit Canadian industry as Airbus has paired with a number of Canadian companies to provide the planes' engines as well as simulators and long-term maintenance.