The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) has awarded two separate contracts to support the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) CH-149 Cormorant helicopter fleet.

The contracts have been awarded to Canada-based company CAE and to Leonardo UK. It has been awarded by DND on behalf of the Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC).

The first contract will provide mid-life upgrade for the RCAF’s helicopter fleet. It has an estimated ceiling value of $911.40m (C$1.24bn).

The latest version of CH-149 helicopter, called the AW101 612, will allow the RCAF to continue enhanced search and rescue (SAR) operations in domestic and international regions.

The new aircraft will majorly be manufactured using new parts, along with some old parts, including control surfaces and landing gears, from VH-71 and CH-149 fleets inventory.

The contract also involves acquisition of additional airframes and parts from Leonardo UK to support fleet expansion, from existing 13 to 16 aircraft.

Further, the second contract will address Canada’s need to deliver improved training solutions for the RCAF.

Under this approximately $57.32m (C$78m) contract, a domestic flight simulator technology to support modernised helicopters will be provided.

It will allow the RCAF’s pilots to obtain the associated training in Canada, instead of travelling to the UK.

Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand said: “The CH-149 helicopter is a critical asset for SAR operations in Canada – and these contracts provide best solution for Canada to upgrade its fleet and provide accompanying training tools to our aviators so that they can continue to keep Canadians safe – now and in years to come.”

Deliveries of upgraded aircraft and simulators is expected to commence in 2026. The modernised fleet will be fully operational by 2029.