Canada — Maritime Helicopter Project

The Mar­itime Heli­copter (MH) project is a com­plex pro­gram that involves the deliv­ery of 28 state-of-the-art, com­bat-capa­ble CH-148 Cyclone heli­copters, asso­ci­at­ed logis­ti­cal and in-ser­vice sup­port, spare parts, as well as mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the Hal­i­fax-class ships and con­struc­tion of a new train­ing facil­i­ty equipped with a full train­ing suite of flight, mis­sion and main­te­nance sim­u­la­tors.

The new CH-148 Cyclone, in its final con­fig­u­ra­tion, will be at the fore­front of mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy and one of the most capa­ble mar­itime heli­copters in the world. Progress con­tin­ues to be made on deliv­ery of the com­plex and sophis­ti­cat­ed weapon sys­tem, and project mile­stones con­tin­ue to be achieved as the Gov­ern­ment, the Cana­di­an Forces and the con­trac­tor col­lec­tive­ly work towards deliv­er­ing ful­ly com­pli­ant heli­copters start­ing in June 2012. 

In ear­ly 2010, the first round of Ship/Helicopter Oper­at­ing Lim­i­ta­tions (SHOL) tri­als suc­cess­ful­ly test­ed and val­i­dat­ed the design of the ship mod­i­fi­ca­tions of the hangar and flight deck for Cyclone com­pat­i­bil­i­ty and ensured they met the tech­ni­cal require­ments spec­i­fied in the con­tract. The SHOL tri­als also test­ed and val­i­dat­ed the Cana­di­an Recov­ery Assist Secur­ing and Tra­vers­ing (C‑RAST) sys­tem, main­te­nance sup­port, and defined safe flight para­me­ters for future ship/helicopter oper­a­tions in mod­er­ate sea states and weath­er con­di­tions. This ini­tial round of SHOL tri­al activ­i­ty also devel­oped stan­dard oper­at­ing pro­ce­dures for ship and flight crew per­son­nel. Sub­se­quent SHOL tri­als will be con­duct­ed in extreme weath­er conditions. 

Cur­rent Sta­tus

Mis­sion soft­ware devel­op­ment is one of the most chal­leng­ing aspects of the Cyclone pro­gram, due to its scope, com­plex­i­ty and impor­tance to the oper­a­tional roles of the heli­copter. In the fall of 2009, Siko­rsky advised the Gov­ern­ment of poten­tial dif­fi­cul­ties deliv­er­ing an inter­im heli­copter with ful­ly com­pli­ant mis­sion sys­tem soft­ware by Novem­ber 2010. 

Since then, the Gov­ern­ment and Siko­rsky have worked togeth­er to find the best solu­tion that would mit­i­gate the impact on the Cana­di­an Forces due to a delay on the deliv­ery of the mis­sion sys­tem soft­ware. A pro­pos­al to deliv­er an inter­im heli­copter equipped with a pre­lim­i­nary ver­sion of the mis­sion soft­ware sys­tem was put for­ward, and sub­se­quent­ly deter­mined to be the best pos­si­ble solu­tion; the inter­im heli­copter will still have all the oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty nec­es­sary to achieve tar­get­ed progress for the Mar­itime Heli­copter project. How­ev­er, since the func­tion­al­i­ty of mis­sion sys­tem soft­ware con­tained with­in the inter­im heli­copters does not meet the require­ments of the con­tract as writ­ten, the con­tract must be amend­ed for the Gov­ern­ment to take deliv­ery of a rede­fined inter­im heli­copter. Ulti­mate deliv­ery of the ful­ly com­pli­ant heli­copters is not affect­ed by the con­tract amend­ment and is on sched­ule for 2012 delivery. 

Terms of the Con­tract Amend­ment

By sign­ing the June 30, 2010 con­tract amend­ment, both the Gov­ern­ment and Siko­rsky agreed that Cana­da would take deliv­ery of six inter­im heli­copters with a pre­lim­i­nary ver­sion of the mis­sion soft­ware start­ing in Novem­ber 2010, there­by allow­ing the DND/CF to pro­ceed with oper­a­tional test­ing and train­ing activ­i­ties. It is impor­tant to note that DND’s train­ing time­line will not be delayed by this. How­ev­er, in return for Canada’s agree­ment on this point, the fol­low­ing con­ces­sions were made by Sikorski: 

  • With­draw­al of an exist­ing Siko­rsky arbi­tra­tion claim;
  • Invest­ment by Siko­rsky in addi­tion­al Indus­tri­al and Region­al Ben­e­fits of $80 million;
  • Ben­e­fits on future mar­itime heli­copter sales payable to Cana­da that could amount to more than US$30 million;
  • Restruc­tur­ing the estab­lished mile­stone pay­ment sched­ule and liq­ui­dat­ed dam­ages clause. Liq­ui­dat­ed dam­ages, if applic­a­ble, will be applied for fail­ure to deliv­er inter­im heli­copters start­ing in Novem­ber 2010, and for fail­ure to deliv­er the ful­ly com­pli­ant heli­copters begin­ning in June 2012;
  • Reduced inter­im heli­copter in-ser­vice sup­port rates until accep­tance of the ful­ly com­pli­ant heli­copters in June 2012; and,
  • Extend­ing the in-ser­vice sup­port until March 2028. 

These con­ces­sions result in a sig­nif­i­cant net ben­e­fit to Canada. 

Defin­ing the Inter­im Heli­copters

The inter­im heli­copters will have par­tial mis­sion capa­bil­i­ties. The inter­im heli­copters will be fit­ted with all spec­i­fied flight equip­ment and hard­ware and will include a pre­lim­i­nary ver­sion of the mis­sion sys­tem soft­ware that will allow the major­i­ty of the sen­sors and weapon sys­tems to be oper­at­ed but not in a ful­ly inte­grat­ed fashion. 

As defined in the amend­ed con­tract, the inter­im heli­copters will not have their final capa­bil­i­ty in only four areas: 

  • Mes­sag­ing func­tion­al­i­ty of tac­ti­cal data exchange capa­bil­i­ty (an auto­mat­ed data-link capa­bil­i­ty that pro­vides for the exchange of tac­ti­cal data between des­ig­nat­ed units, includ­ing the ships and aircraft);
  • Mis­sion flight endurance (21 minute deficiency);
  • Sin­gle engine oper­a­tion at high tem­per­a­ture; and
  • The mis­sion sys­tem soft­ware will be a pre­lim­i­nary version.

No oper­a­tional or air­wor­thi­ness require­ments will be com­pro­mised with this approach. It is for this rea­son that DND’s train­ing time­lines will be unaffected. 

Once deliv­ery of the ful­ly com­pli­ant heli­copters begins in 2012, the inter­im heli­copters will be retro­fit­ted to be ful­ly com­pli­ant and returned to DND/CF by Decem­ber 2013. This will pro­vide the Cana­di­an Forces with a total fleet of 28 CH-148 ful­ly com­pli­ant heli­copters in accor­dance with all con­trac­tu­al specifications. 

Role of the Inter­im Heli­copters

The six inter­im heli­copters will mit­i­gate, as much as pos­si­ble, the impact of the delay by ensur­ing that train­ing and ini­tial oper­a­tional test­ing and eval­u­a­tion can begin as soon as pos­si­ble. Oper­a­tional test­ing of the inter­im heli­copters, with a pre­lim­i­nary ver­sion of the mis­sion sys­tem soft­ware, will pro­vide an excel­lent oppor­tu­ni­ty to eval­u­ate the basic heli­copter, the effec­tive­ness of the in-ser­vice sup­port, and train­ing services. 

The inter­im heli­copters will not be deployed on oper­a­tions. The inter­im heli­copters will be used for ini­tial cadre train­ing, which pro­vides train­ing to suf­fi­cient air­crew and main­te­nance per­son­nel to enable DND/CF to con­duct the ini­tial oper­a­tional test­ing and eval­u­a­tion (IOT&E). IOT&E is an essen­tial peri­od of test­ing to deter­mine the most oper­a­tional­ly effec­tive employ­ment of new equip­ment before field­ing the system. 

Dur­ing IOT&E mul­ti­ple air­craft sys­tems can be assessed on their indi­vid­ual per­for­mance and the DND/CF can deter­mine how to best inte­grate their capa­bil­i­ties into the over­all weapon sys­tem for fly­ing, fight­ing and sup­port­ing Cyclone oper­a­tions. Fur­ther­more, devel­op­men­tal pro­ce­dures for the Cyclone’s flight and oper­a­tions can be ver­i­fied and sub­se­quent­ly mod­i­fied if nec­es­sary ear­ly on in the tran­si­tion pro­gram, enabling a smoother tran­si­tion to the ful­ly com­pli­ant helicopters. 

The Cyclone rep­re­sents a tremen­dous advance­ment in heli­copter and mis­sion sys­tem tech­nol­o­gy com­pared to the Sea King. Advanced expo­sure of these new capa­bil­i­ties will help make the tran­si­tion to the new air­craft more effec­tive and effi­cient when the ful­ly com­pli­ant heli­copters become avail­able. By gain­ing ear­ly access to the Cyclone through the inter­im heli­copters and asso­ci­at­ed sup­port equip­ment and train­ing devices, the Sea King com­mu­ni­ty can begin a real­is­tic, hands-on approach to tran­si­tion­ing to the high­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed and more com­plex Cyclone heli­copter and inte­grat­ed sup­port system. 

Tak­ing deliv­ery of the inter­im heli­copters will also ensure that cru­cial sup­port mech­a­nisms are put into place, such as sup­ply chains for spare parts and main­te­nance process­es and pro­ce­dures. All the sup­port infra­struc­ture and main­te­nance process­es need to be in place before the CH-148 Cyclone can be deployed on oper­a­tions. By begin­ning this effort in Novem­ber 2010 in advance of the deliv­ery of ful­ly com­pli­ant heli­copters, it will allow the ful­ly com­pli­ant heli­copters to be deployed on oper­a­tions soon­er than if inter­im heli­copters were not available. 

The Sea King will con­tin­ue to fly safe and pro­duc­tive Cana­di­an Forces mis­sions in its valu­able mar­itime heli­copter role until the ful­ly com­pli­ant Cyclone heli­copters are ready to be deployed. 

Next Steps

DND/CF is cur­rent­ly prepar­ing for the deliv­ery of the inter­im heli­copter. This exten­sive prepa­ra­tion effort includes secur­ing the appro­pri­ate cer­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­men­ta­tion; ensur­ing the train­ing devices are func­tion­al and avail­able; final­iz­ing course­ware and air­craft oper­at­ing instruc­tions and check­lists for the ini­tial train­ing cadre; and ensur­ing the main­te­nance pro­gram is ready for train­ing and fol­low-on flight oper­a­tions. Ini­tial train­ing cadre involves the train­ing of des­ig­nat­ed main­te­nance and air­crew per­son­nel from 12 Wing Shear­wa­ter who will con­duct the ini­tial oper­a­tional test­ing and eval­u­a­tion of the inter­im heli­copters and pro­vide main­te­nance support. 

DND/CF is also prepar­ing to con­duct the sec­ond round of SHOL tri­als in the com­ing months; the exact tim­ing will be deter­mined based on air­craft avail­abil­i­ty and pro­gram pri­or­i­ties. This por­tion of the tri­als will deter­mine the full spec­trum of flight para­me­ters that will allow the heli­copter to safe­ly oper­ate from the Hal­i­fax class ship in high winds, inclement weath­er and rough sea conditions. 

Mar­itime Heli­copter Project Back­ground

In Novem­ber 2004, the Gov­ern­ment of Cana­da announced the sign­ing of two sep­a­rate but inter­re­lat­ed con­tracts with Siko­rsky Inter­na­tion­al Oper­a­tions Inc. for the Mar­itime Heli­copter project. The first con­tract, worth $1.8 bil­lion, was for 28 ful­ly inte­grat­ed, cer­ti­fied and qual­i­fied heli­copters with their mis­sion sys­tems installed, to replace the Cana­di­an Forces CH-124 Sea King heli­copter fleet. The sec­ond con­tract, val­ued at $3.2 bil­lion, was for 20-years of in-ser­vice sup­port for the heli­copters, and includ­ed the con­struc­tion of a train­ing facil­i­ty, as well as a sim­u­la­tor and train­ing suite. 

Deliv­ery of the first heli­copter was expect­ed in ear­ly 2009; how­ev­er in Jan­u­ary 2008, Siko­rsky for­mal­ly claimed for sched­ule relief because of “excus­able delays” there­by advis­ing the gov­ern­ment of a delay in the planned deliv­ery date. PWGSC, along with DND, worked toward res­o­lu­tion with Siko­rsky and, in Decem­ber 2008, the con­tract was amend­ed to reflect a new, tiered sched­ule with deliv­ery of inter­im heli­copters begin­ning in Novem­ber 2010 and deliv­ery of ful­ly com­pli­ant heli­copters begin­ning in June 2012. 

The new CH-148 Cyclone, in its final con­fig­u­ra­tion, will meet all of the per­for­mance require­ments spec­i­fied by the Cana­di­an Forces and will be one of the most capa­ble mar­itime heli­copters in the world. 

Depart­ment of Nation­al Defence, Kanada 

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