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CH-148 Cyclone

Sikorsky's H-92 Superhawk was selected as the Canadian Force's new Maritime Helicopter, to be known as the CH-148 Cyclone. The Maritime Helicopter Project to replace the SH-3 Sea King was initiated in the 1980s. Brian Mulroney's Conservative government first tried to replace the Sea Kings in 1992, reaching a $5.8-billion deal to buy 50 EH101 Merlin helicopters. Soon after the 1993 election the deal was scrapped by the Liberal government under then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who paid $500 million in penalties to get out of the contract. The Canadian Air Force's only dedicated search and rescue (SAR) helicopter at the time, the CH-149 Cormorant, was a variant of th EH101.

In late 2003 there was a call for tenders, with a winner was announced in July of 2004. Sikorsky was awarded contracts in November 2004 to provide the 28 maritime helicopters and to provide in-service support for those helicopters. The $3.2B contract included airframes and integrated systems. The 20-year parts/training package was a $1.8B deal covering construction and operation of the Maritime Helicopter Training Centre at CFB Shearwater.

The CH-148 Cyclone, a variant of the Sikorsky H-92 SuperhawkT maritime helicopter was initially scheduled to be delivered in November 2008. In January 2008 the Canadian Press reported the new helicopters to replace Canada's aging fleet of Sea Kings would likely be delayed up to 30 months. The military's chief of defence staff said he was frustrated by the delay. Gen. Rick Hillier said Canada's military must shed a reputation for using outdated equipment. "We've become world class at maintaining old equipment, and we don't want to be world class at maintaining old equipment," Hillier said following a speech in Halifax.

Sikorsky joined with General Dynamics Canada and L-3 MAS Canada to form The Maritime Helicopter Team, which would develop, certify and field the new Cyclone fleet. General Dynamics Canada, based in Ottawa, Ontario, was responsible for the Cyclone's systems integration. General Dynamics Canada was awarded the contract to become the system integrator for Canada's new shipborne helicopter, the CH148 Cyclone. General Dynamics Canada's role involves the selection, purchase, integration and installation of all the mission systems for the fleet of 28 aircraft. These mission systems include radar, ESM, acoustics, self-defence, navigation and communication systems. L-3 MAS, based in Mirabel, Quebec, was responsible for long-term in-service support of the Cyclone for the Canadian Forces. MHP office staff would also be co-located at General Dynamics Canada and S-3 MAS facilities.

The Cyclone helicopter's flaw-tolerant design and other advances provided a margin of safety and reliability. The Cyclone would be multi-mission capable and would perform surface surveillance and control, subsurface surveillance and control, and utility operations that included search and rescue, passenger and cargo transfer, medical evacuations and tactical transport in support of national, North American and international security.

The Cyclone would conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW), surveillance, and search and rescue (SAR) missions. It would also provide tactical transport for national and international security efforts. This twin-engine helicopter was compatible with the then latest high-tech frigates and included several new safety features. Its aluminum and composite airframe was built with lightning-strike and high-intensity radio frequency (RF) pulse protection. The aircraft also incorporated flaw tolerance and engine burst containment. The Cyclone had day-and-night capability, and could fly in all weather conditions and in temperatures ranging from -40C to +55C. With a maximum speed of 306 km/h, the CH-148 was almost twice as fast as the Sea King. The Cyclone could also fly 925 km without refuelling, more than three times farther than its predecessor.

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Page last modified: 27-12-2018 13:17:21 ZULU