Through the investments announced, the current fleet of 14 CH-149s 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. The Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade (CMLU) project is valued at up to US$1.04 billion.
“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.”Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence
With this project, the CH-149s will be upgraded to the AW101-612 design which is the helicopter model recently procured by Norway for their search and rescue missions. Using an already established configuration accelerates the project considerably. Training solutions and related infrastructure will also be acquired.
According to a Leonardo’s statement, the CMLU program will include new 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.
In 2005, CH-149s from the Trenton main operating base were redistributed to 14 Wing in Greenwood, and 19 Wing in Comox. With the addition of at least two CH-149s to the fleet, Cormorants will return to Trenton and replace CH-146 Griffons in the SAR role.