Leonardo Helicopters has teamed up with IMP Aerospace and Defence (IMP) to support the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) EH101/CH-149 Cormorant search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopters modernisation programme.
The companies have re-established ‘Team Cormorant’ for the conversion of AW101-519 helicopters to expand the RCAF’s existing fleet of CH-149 helicopters.
The team comprises Leonardo Helicopters, IMP and other key Canadian companies, which will supply and support critical aircraft components, technology, systems, simulation and training for the modernisation programme.
Leonardo Helicopters is the original equipment manufacturer of the EH101 and AW101 helicopters, while IMP will serve as the prime contractor for Cormorant in-service support.
Leonardo Helicopters UK managing director John Ponsonby said: “Through Team Cormorant, Leonardo Helicopters will be able to deliver significant Industrial Technological Benefits and a value proposition that will transfer new skills and knowledge to Canada, creating and sustaining more than 360 high-skilled jobs across the country.
“The Cormorant CMLU will deliver to Canada the most advanced and capable, state-of-the-art search-and-rescue helicopter available anywhere in the world today or the foreseeable future.”
The Cormorant mid-life upgrade (CMLU) and conversion programme are anticipated to create a fleet of the world’s most advanced and capable SAR helicopters available.
Estimated at around C$1.5bn, the programmes will offer a common fleet featuring latest avionic and mission systems, advanced radars and sensors, vision enhancement and tracking systems.
The RCAF’s current fleet of 14 Cormorant helicopters will be modernised to extend their service life until 2040.
The CMLU programme is aimed at providing capability improvements to enhance the helicopter’s overall mission effectiveness and return the primary rotary wing SAR helicopter to Trenton main operating base.
Final delivery of the upgraded CH-149 helicopters is expected to take place in 2024.
Image: An RCAF CH-149 Cormorant in flight. Photo: courtesy of Korona4Reel.