The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is a major step closer to operating a new world-class maritime helicopter fleet with the official acceptance of six CH-148 Cyclones on June 19, 2015.
Defence Minister Jason Kenney joined Public Works and Government Services Minister Diane Finley, as well as Regional Minister for Nova Scotia and Justice Minister Peter MacKay, at 12 Wing Shearwater, Nova Scotia, today to mark this important milestone. The six helicopters were accepted in accordance with the schedule set out in January 2014 and have the operational capability to allow the RCAF to begin retiring the Ch-124 Sea Kings.
“Today is an exciting day as we take another significant step forward in the Cyclone project,” said Defence Minister Kenney. “I am confident this modern aircraft will improve our aviators’ and sailors’ ability to work together in defence of Canada from current and future threats.”
The aircraft accepted today will be based at 12 Wing and are being used for training and testing with RCAF personnel. In its final configuration, the Cyclones will be capable of a full range of anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, and utility missions in various environments and will be one of the most capable maritime helicopters in the world.
After more than 50 years of distinguished service, the first two Sea Kings will be retired later this year. The Sea King fleet has served Canada proudly at home and abroad, including missions such as the first Gulf War in 1990-1991, and providing security support at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Sea King fleet will continue operations until 2018 to allow for the transition to the Cyclone fleet.
“The Sea King has faithfully served Canada for more than 50 years and has proven to be incredibly effective in undertaking a high number of simultaneous operations at home and abroad,” said Brigadier-General Paul Ormsby, the director of the maritime helicopter project and a member of the RCAF. “I am honoured to be a part of this significant step toward providing Canada with the next generation of maritime helicopter capability, which will be one of the most capable maritime helicopters in the world.”
Sikorsky, the RCAF and the Royal Canadian Navy conducted sea trials with the CH-148 Cyclone on Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Halifax between December 2014 and May 2015. In support of the trials, the Cyclone conducted 67 sorties, including 322 landings and takeoffs from the frigate. The aircraft’s capabilities will continue to be enhanced through future deliveries, with the Cyclone maritime helicopter fleet fully taking over for the Sea King beginning in 2018.
With a maximum cruise speed of 250 kilometres per hour, CH-148 Cyclone helicopters will be approximately 10 per cent faster than the CH-124 Sea King. Further, the Cyclone has a 36 per cent larger usable cabin space, and it can exceed the range and endurance of a Sea King by 40 per cent at maximum weight and sensor performance.
In June 2014, the Government of Canada amended both the acquisition contract and in-service support to include an additional 10 years of support at rates based on those competed in 2004, thus generating significant value for taxpayers.