Government of Canada Invests in Modernizing and Growing its CH-149 Cormorant Search and Rescue Fleet
(Source Canadian Department of National Defence; issued Aug 22, 2019)
Canada originally ordered the AW-101 to replace both its ASW and SAR helicopters, but that order was canceled and recompeted. The AW-101 won the SAR deal while the Sikorsky S-92, which won the ASW deal, is still struggling to perform. (Leonardo photo)
OTTAWA, Ontario --- The Government of Canada is making investments to ensure the women and men of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) have the equipment they need to fulfill their missions, including search and rescue (SAR) operations.

In support of this priority, Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan announced in Comox, British Columbia investments in the search and rescue fleet of CH-149 Cormorant helicopters.

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

Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy applies to this project. It requires the contractor, Leonardo, to undertake economic activity in Canada equal to the value of the contract, which will provide opportunities to develop key industrial capabilities in Canada.

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. 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,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.

“The government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the women and men who proudly serve our country, have the equipment they need to carry out their important work. Through this procurement we are extending the service life of the Cormorant fleet until 2042 and augmenting the number of aircraft available to ensure Canada’s ability to respond to incidents and keep Canadians safe,” said Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility.

“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. 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,” said Lieutenant-General A.D. Meinzinger, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force.


Leonardo Welcomes Canada’s Continued Commitment to Modernize and Expand the Cormorant SAR Helicopter Fleet
(Source: Leonardo; issued Aug. 23, 2019)
ROME --- Leonardo welcomes the continued commitment made by Canada’s Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, to modernize and expand Canada’s primary rotary search and rescue helicopter fleet through the Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade (CMLU) program. Yesterday’s announcement marks a major step forward ahead of program finalization.

To date, the AW101/CH-149 “Cormorant” has enabled the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) search and rescue crews to successfully complete thousands of rescues, including several that received international recognition for their heroism.

Leonardo is very proud that the Cormorant has been trusted to provide the capabilities to ensure these rescues were possible in any weather condition, anywhere in Canada or offshore and with this announcement, will continue to do so for decades to come.

The Cormorant provides an unmatched capability in meeting Canada’s search and rescue requirements that allows the conduct of operations in areas not accessible by other helicopter types.

The CMLU program will upgrade the Cormorants to the latest AW101-612 standard, currently being delivered to Norway, providing a low risk upgrade path with a modern, proven solution.

These capability enhancements and equipment improvements will include state-of-the-art avionics, a new “glass cockpit”, the addition of the latest sensors, radar and search enhancement technology, more powerful digitally-controlled engines, wireless in-cabin communications, LED lighting, rescue hoist upgrades, synthetic training solutions and more, enabling the Cormorants to spend less time searching and more time rescuing stranded Canadians.

Leonardo, as "Team Cormorant” prime contractor, will work closely with IMP Aerospace and Defence to deliver the CMLU program in Canada, with the work undertaken by Canadians. CAE will deliver Canada’s first AW101 full motion simulator and other synthetic training capabilities. GE Canada will provide the new engines and Collins Aerospace will provide the new cockpit displays and avionics. Other Canadian suppliers will be engaged through a robust Industrial Technological Benefits (ITB) and Value Proposition program which will deliver the maximum value of the CMLU and fleet expansion to Canada.

The proposed CMLU and fleet expansion program will be delivered with no interruption or reduction in rotary search and rescue capabilities and will return Canada’s primary search and rescue helicopter to service at CFB Trenton.

Leonardo is a global high-tech company operating in the Aerospace, Defence and Security sectors. We are proud to be expanding our presence in Canada where we have been present for more than 50 years. Today you will find our air ambulance and Cormorant Search and Rescue helicopters saving Canadian lives every day, our radars and electronic systems helping to safely control air traffic and provide weather forecasts, aircraft from our joint venture ATR connecting communities across Canada and soon our parcel sorting technology helping to deliver millions of packages on time.


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