LONDON – The Canadian Department of National Defence has awarded helicopter manufacturer Leonardo a CAD$1 billion contract for the AgustaWestland 101/CH-149 or the “Cormorant” Mid-Life Upgrade (CMLU) project.
The contract will cover 16 aircraft overall, with 13 existing Cormorant Search and Rescue Helicopter (CS), which are currently still flying. In addition, this latest round of upgrades will also be the turn of Cormorant helicopters to Trenton, which is its Main Operating Base (MOB).
The upgrade is much needed after 2 decades of service life, and the CH-149 upgrade work is slated to be performed at IMP’s Halifax, N.S. facilities.
Chief Executive Officer of Leonardo S.p.a. Alessandro Profumo stated with excitement: “With the Cormorant helicopter the Canadian Government is getting the right equipment for their Forces, at the best price for Canadians, with the right benefits for Canadian industry.”
What is being upgraded?
The AW101 or the CH-149 Cormorant SAR is arguably the best available search and rescue helicopter in the market.
The CMLU project will value add on Canadian helicopters by upgrading the avionics, new glass cockpit, more capable digitally-controlled engines, wireless in-cabin communications, and the latest sensors.
This includes the Electro-Optical Infra-Red device and Mobile Phone Detection Location System, which will increase the chances of a successful search and rescue mission.
Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, stated: “The AW101/CH-149 “Cormorant” Search and Rescue helicopter fleet will provide the Royal Canadian Air Force with the sustainment of a robust, high-tech all-weather SAR capability across Canada.”
“The CMLU programme through Team Cormorant will reduce the cost of fleet ownership, while further increasing reliability, capability and safety for Canadian people.”
The year 2022 is an important year for the Cormorant as this is the operational flight anniversary for the helicopter itself, as the first flight took place in July of 2002.
The first delivery flew in October 2001. The fleet has now hit an impressive milestone with more than 100,000 flight hours.
The Agusta 101 is one of the most advanced medium-lift helicopters available today in the market and is currently still flying with reputable operators worldwide.
Moreover, the medium-lift helicopter provides operators with long-range, large capacity and cutting edge and latest technology for pilots to operate. Importantly, these capabilities could be done so in an economical cost-effective manner, which defines multi-mission aircraft to the next level.
In fact, there are over 220 orders placed on AW101 helicopters so far globally, which will see service in a large number of roles.
Role missions include: Search and Rescue, Personnel Recovery, Special Forces Operations, utility operations, troop transport, Anti-Surface Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Airborne Early Warning, and mine sweeping.