Original equipment manufacturer Leonardo and support provider IMP Aerospace have reformed Team Cormorant to bid for the Cormorant Mid-Life Update (CMLU) requirement.
Then known as AgustaWestland, Leonardo supplied 15 AW101-519 helicopters to the Royal Canadian Air Force, the aircraft entering service in 2000 as the CH-149 Cormorant. IMP Aerospace has provided full turnkey in-service support to the fleet since.
CMLU is intended to update the fleet to provide another 25 years of service in the search and rescue (SAR) role. A request for proposals is expected next year, with a contract award slated for 2019. The programme covers the current fleet of 14 CH-149s, and also includes the similar VH-71 Kestrel helicopters received when the assets of the former US presidential helicopter programme were acquired by Canada in 2011.
Nine aircraft were included in the deal to be used for spares and as a potential source of additional aircraft. These assets are currently in storage at IMP Aerospace’s facility at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and up to seven could potentially be returned to airworthiness.
Under its CMLU solution, Team Cormorant is proposing a common fleet with new avionics and mission systems, advanced radars, sensors, vision enhancement and tracking systems to meet the RCAF’s “no fail” search and rescue requirements.
The update programme is also intended to reduce operating costs.
Team Cormorant’s bid is engineered to retain full existing operating availability during the undertaking of the upgrade, involving the modi cation of some VH-71 aircraft to Canada’s SAR configuration.
When fully implemented, the CMLU programme will allow the expansion of Cormorant coverage from the current three main bases to four. Currently the CH-149s y from Greenwood, Comox and Gander, leaving the SAR base at Trenton operating Bell CH-146 Griffons. With an increased number of CH-149s, the long range and bad weather capability of the Cormorant would be restored to Trenton.