OTTAWA --- The Canadian government has selected Italian firm Leonardo to upgrade its fleet of 14 CH-149 Cormorant helicopter, which is based on the company's AW101. The value of the sole source deal was not announced, but the government previously estimated the program could be worth between CAD500 million and CAD1.5 billion.
Canada is also considering whether to expand the search-and-rescue fleet, which could be done by leasing or buying AW101s, or upgrading VH-71 helicopters that Canada purchased from the United States after Washington cancelled its original presidential helicopter program. Canada purchased the nine VH-71s, which are similar to the Cormorant, for spare parts. Seven of the VH-71s are still airworthy.
Sikorsky had been lobbying Canada to buy S-92 helicopters for search-and-rescue operations. The Canadian Air Force is fielding a variant of the S-92, the CH-148 Cyclone.
The CH-149 upgrade is expected to include improved avionics, radars, sensors, and vision and tracking systems.