The Government of Canada is set to upgrade the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) fleet of 85 CH-146 Griffon helicopters.

Following the refurbishment, the lifespan of the aircraft is expected to last until at least 2031.

Bell Helicopter Textron Canada, the original equipment manufacturer, has secured a contract worth up to $90m to perform design and development work for upgrading the helicopter’s avionics systems, engines, cockpit displays and integrated sensor systems.

The company will carry out the work under the existing CH-146 support contract it received in 2011.

The government has outlined a budget of approximately $800m for the Griffon limited life extension project.

Griffon is a multi-purpose utility helicopter deployed by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in their operations both at home and abroad.

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“Extending the life of the CH-146 Griffon fleet will ensure the longevity of the RCAF’s tactical helicopter capability.”

The helicopter can be used to support multiple missions, including tactical troop transport, reconnaissance, evacuation, disaster relief, special operations aviation support, and search and rescue.

RCAF commander lieutenant-general AL Meinzinger said: “Extending the life of the CH-146 Griffon fleet will ensure the longevity of the RCAF’s tactical helicopter capability.

“These helicopters have performed extremely well over the years and with these new upgrades, they will continue to be a valuable asset that will allow our personnel to carry out missions and operations successfully well into the future.”

The CH-146, which is based on the Bell 412 helicopter, has been in use with the Canadian Armes Forces since the 1990s.

The helicopter is capable of transporting up to 15 people, including two pilots, a flight engineer, and 12 passengers, and can fly at top speeds of up to 260kmph.

Upon completion of the definition phase, the government is expected to award a separate contract for implementation in 2022.