Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was in Comox Thursday to announce investments to strengthen and increase the helicopter fleet used by 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron. Photo by Erin Haluschak

Feds invest $1.39 billion into growth, modernization of CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue fleet

Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade project announced

  • Aug. 22, 2019 2:30 p.m.

The federal government is modernizing and growing its CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue fleet.

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was in Comox Thursday to announce investments to strengthen and increase the helicopter fleet used by 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron.

Through the investments announced, the fleet will receive at least two additional helicopters and be upgraded to extend its life to at least 2042.

The CH-149 Cormorant provides a helicopter capability that allows search and rescue crews to conduct operations in areas not accessible by other helicopter fleets. Upgrading and enhancing this critical capability will ensure that it continues to be the reliable aircraft needed to conduct successful search and rescue operations in Canada’s challenging environment.

“Canadians rely on the women and men of the Royal Canadian Air Force to conduct successful search and rescue operations in challenging circumstances,” said Sajjan. “These enhancements to the CH-149 Cormorant fleet will ensure that search and rescue crews have the right equipment to continue providing these life-saving services.”

The CH-149s will be upgraded to the AW101-612 design, which is the helicopter model recently procured by Norway for that country’s search and rescue missions. Using an already established configuration accelerates the project considerably. Training solutions and related infrastructure will also be acquired.

“Every year, the Royal Canadian Air Force flies about 1,000 missions in support of search and rescue, a core mission of the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Lt.-Gen. A.D. Meinzinger, commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. “These upgrades to the CH-149 Cormorant, and an increase in fleet size ensures the RCAF will continue to deliver search and rescue services in the challenging Canadian environment.”

The Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade project is valued at up to $1.39 billion.

The project office will conduct this work with Leonardo S.p.A. in partnership with IMP Aerospace, and CAE.

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