$1.39B upgrade to give new life to rescue helicopters

A $1.39-billion, midlife upgrade for Canada’s search-and-rescue fleet of Cormorant helicopters was announced Thursday in Comox by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

Sajjan said the upgrade will allow the service life of the CH-149 Cormorant helicopter to continue until 2042.

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Aircraft upgrades will include improvements to the navigation, communication and flight- recorder systems. Sensor capabilities will be improved and the airframes will be upgraded.

An additional two aircraft will also be added to the fleet.

The Royal Canadian Air Force operates a fleet of 14 search-and-rescue CH-149 Cormorants. Five are stationed at 19 Wing in Comox.

According to the Defence Department, the RCAF fleet averages about 1,000 search-and-rescue missions each year.

The CH-149 Cormorant first entered Canadian service as a search-and-rescue helicopter in 2001. It was selected for its ability to operate in Canada’s extreme weather and variety of geographical terrain, from high altitudes such as the Rocky Mountains to extreme temperatures such as the Arctic. — Times Colonist

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