The Government of Canada has sealed a $1.7bn (C$2.28bn) deal with Bell Textron Canada Limited (BTCL) to provide in-service support for the CH-146 Griffon helicopters to fortify the Royal Canadian Air Force’s capabilities. 

This strategic investment aims to sustain the fleet and provide economic boosts and job creation nationwide.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, unveiled a landmark contract, signalling Canada’s commitment to national defence. The agreement with BTCL ensures the continued operations of the CH-146 Griffon helicopters until the mid-2030s.

The fleet, which plays a role in domestic and international missions ranging from tactical transport to emergency response and search and rescue, will undergo in-service support. Starting in April 2024, BTCL will spearhead programme management, engineering, technical services, and more, with work distributed across various Canadian provinces, generating or preserving 1,130 jobs.

Beyond national security, the Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy ensures that BTCL’s commitment extends to the broader Canadian supply chain, providing opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses. The economic impact is substantial, with BTCL’s contributions potentially adding at least $93m (C$125m) annually to Canada’s GDP over the contract’s lifespan.

Ministers from various portfolios echoed the significance of this investment. Minister Bill Blair highlighted the CH-146 Griffon’s role in tactical aviation, special operations, and search and rescue, emphasising the contract’s role in ensuring the fleet’s longevity for the next 15 years.

Minister François-Philippe Champagne emphasised the economic ripple effect: “Canada’s aerospace sector is a world leader and a huge benefit to the entire Canadian economy.” This sentiment was echoed by Michael Nault, vice president and general manager at Bell Textron Canada Ltd., expressing pride in supporting the Canadian Armed Forces and keeping skills within the country.

With 82 CH-146 Griffon helicopters currently in active service and operating from 11 locations across Canada, this investment cements the country’s commitment to maintaining an air fleet.

According to GlobalData’s “Canada Defence Market 2023-2028” report, Canada plans to replace the CH-146 Griffon transport and utility helicopter, but a contract has not yet been awarded.

This announcement comes on the heels of a previous $800m contract awarded to BTCL in May 2022, supporting the Griffon Limited Life Extension project.