DND Procurement – Maritime Helicopter Project – May/Nov 2011
First CH-148 Cyclone (sort of) – MND Peter MacKay Announces
Arrival of an 'Interim
Maritime Helicopter' for Ground Training
Update 29 Nov 2011: The MND's promise that the first 'interim'
CH-148 Cyclone would for be available by the end of the summer failed to pan out. Sikorsky is still
working on the first IMH. Thus far, only the S-92 demonstrator is on hand for CF ground training.
On 03 Jan 2014, Public Works confirmed that Canada would proceed with procurement of the CH-148 Cyclone Maritime Helicopters. Deliveries of 'interim' Cyclones are now
planned for 2015 to 2018. These Cyclones are to have 'sufficient' capabilities to begin retiring the CH-124 Sea King fleet. So, the MHP deliveries will begin a full decade late,
Canadians are on the hook for an extra $1B, and FOC for CH-148s is still an unknown.
Even the MND seems to be wearying of the on-going delays and disappointments of the Maritime Helicopter Project. But the arrival of
a Sikorsky-owned CH-148 Cyclone Interim Maritime
Helicopter at CFB Shearwater has provided a photo op nonetheless. There is nothing new in the Minister's
accompanying statement. As became the norm with the MHP, delivery dates keep slipping but somehow the anticipated
Initial Opera- tional Capability date miraculously stays on target. Yeah, and there'll be no fine either.
The Minister's job, of course, is to put as good a political
spin on MHP as he possibly can. Fortunately for Mr MacKay, the preceding Liberal governments made
that easy. Doing anything looked good by comparison. Still, citizen patience is evaporating and the
MND probably worn out from all the backpedaling. Certainly the suppliers haven't made it any easier. The first
"Cyclone" to arrive at CFB Shearwater was a warmed-over Sikorsky S-92 demonstrator. The next was an 'empty'
airframe for winter 2009 sea trials.
Throughout the delays, the MND and Harper government have emphasized the 'doing something' distinction. But
the problem is, eventually the taxpayers feel entitled to a result. The only thing nominally within our control are
the actions undertaken on our behalf by government. The MND could have dropped the it-is-all-under-control line when
a glance at the calendar alone revealed that the delivery schedule for Cyclones had augered in.
But there's no novelty in Cabinet Ministers tripping over their own over-inflated egos. To be fair to Peter MacKay,
he faced an impossible job with MHP. Some pundits point to the Cyclone technical problems and delivery delays
as proof that DND has selected the wrong helicopter for MHP. Better that Canada bought a 'proven' machine. If only
it was that simple. The rival EH101 has had its share of problems in Canadian service (as the CH-149 Cormorant
SAR helicopter) and all other MHP candidates were eliminated.
It is true that the MND could've handled announcements regarding the government's negotiations with Sikorsky with
more candor. It's true that DND allows its planners to bloat specifications until no existing equipment can
meet the requirements. But maybe the real question is: why has the modern aerospace industry become almost incapable
of delivery on schedule while meeting agreed specifications? The standard answer is the complexity of
modern aircraft. Then maybe aircraft should be simpler and cheaper.
A defining characteristic of a bureaucrat is complaining about how difficult it is to do their jobs by way of
explaining the near complete absense of results. Has the western world really reached a point where our
technologists are now as effete as bureaucrats?
The text of the 26 May 2011 Minister of National Defence Press Statement follows:
Statement By Minister MacKay On The Status Of The Maritime Helicopter
May 26, 2011
SHEARWATER, N.S. – The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement today:
"The first interim maritime helicopter, the CH-148 Cyclone, arrived at 12 Wing Shear-
water, Nova Scotia, on May 13, 2011 to [the] support training of Canadian Forces (CF) aircrew and technicians
for the Maritime Helicopter Project. Sikorsky Operations Inter- national Inc. flew the helicopter to Shearwater to
fulfil its contractual obligation under the Maritime Helicopter Project to deliver initial cadre training to the CF.
While in Shearwater, the
helicopter will be used initially as a ground-based training aid for technicians and then for aircrew flight
training later this summer.
The arrival of this helicopter demonstrates progress with this project and brings us one step closer towards
the delivery of a Maritime Helicopter capability that provides the Canadian Forces with a modern, flexible
helicopter to assist in the defence of Canada and Canadian interests well into the future.
While the arrival of this helicopter does not mark formal delivery at this time, progress on this important
procurement continues. The helicopter will remain under Sikorsky title and control until Sikorsky meets all of
the contractual delivery requirements.
Formal delivery of the first interim maritime helicopter is expected later this summer once a Canadian military
airworthiness certificate is granted and once initial aircrew flight training is conducted.
The new Cyclone, in its final configuration, will be at the forefront of modern technology and will be one of the
most capable maritime helicopters in the world."