Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has announced that Canada will upgrade and expand its fleet of 14 CH-149 Cormorant helicopters with at least two aircraft.
The AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorant is the Canadian Forces designation for the AgustaWestland AW101, known as Merlin in UK service.
The Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade project is valued at up to $1.39 billion. The fleet will receive at least two additional helicopters and be upgraded to extend its life to at least 2042.
Lieutenant-General A.D. Meinzinger, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force said:
“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.”
Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence said:
“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.”
According to firm Leonardo in a release:
“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.”