Military Capabilities

RCAF aims for 2018 first deployment with Cyclone maritime helicopter

07 March 2017
Canada is purchasing 28 CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters to replace its ageing Sea Kings. Source: Sikorsky

Key Points

  • A Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone ASW helicopter is to deploy on operations in 2018
  • The aircraft is replacing Sikorsky CH-124 Sea Kings

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) expects to deploy its Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter on operations for the first time in 2018. An aircraft will be embarked in a Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Halifax-class frigate deployed on NATO tasking.

Canada is fielding 28 Cyclone aircraft to replace its venerable Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King. Lieutenant Colonel Brendan Cook, the RCAF's director of requirements for maritime air capability, told the TDN UK 'Underwater Defence and Security' conference in Portsmouth, UK, on 6 March the Sea King is scheduled for retirement in 2018, "even if it means a slight drop in capability as we transition from one [aircraft] to the other".

Operational test and evaluation is ongoing for Cyclone, he said. Ship-Helicopter Operational Limits trials are now underway, including developing full capacity to work in high sea states, day and night. Initial cadre and conversion training work also has begun.

Still, capability will be rolled out in blocks, said Lt Col Cook, to allow initial platforms to operate sooner and mitigate a capability gap. Block I will deliver initial surveillance and ASW capacity. Blocks I and II together will add the HELRAS dipping sonar capability, introduced incrementally.

The CH-148 also is fitted with lightweight torpedoes, machine gun, ramp and hoist, integrated mission system, active/passive sonobuoy processor, electronic support measures (ESM) and electro-optical/infra-red (EO/IR) capabilities, an imaging radar system, Link 11 (although with intent to upgrade to Link 16 as soon as possible), and a self-defence suite.

The crew consists of two pilots, a sensor operator, and a tactical co-ordinator. The aircraft's cabin can be reconfigured to embark up to 14 passengers.

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