The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) search and rescue (SAR) will soon be receiving 16 new aircrafts at a price tag of $2.4 billion, announced by the Government of Canada on Thursday, Dec. 8.
The contract was awarded to the European defence giant, Airbus Defence and Space, who will be providing the fleet of C-295W aircrafts.
The contract is broken down into two phases. Phase one includes the purchase of the 16 aircrafts, the first one expected to arrive in 2019, eleven years of in-service support and maintenance; and the building of a training simulator in Comox, BC to deliver a“state-of-the-art” training program.
The second phase includes an option to extend the contract for 15 additional years of support, totalling a cost of $4.7 billion.
Several notable officials were present at CFB Trenton on Thursday for the announcement including Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Public Works Minister Judy Foote and the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lt.-Gen. Michael Hood.
“This is a significant investment to replace our fleet of Buffalo and Hercules aircraft, strengthen Canada’s capabilities to conduct search and rescue operations, and keep Canadians safe,” said Foote, Public Works Minister.
The aircraft will be stationed at the four principal search and rescue bases: Comox, Winnipeg, Trenton and Greenwood.
“This is a great day for the Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadians. I believe new fleets with the capability to fully integrate with our search and rescue partners will fundamentally change the SAR paradigm for us. Thanks to the centres and systems aboard this new fleet of aircrafts, I believe search and rescue is going to become a lot less about search and a lot more about rescue, and that is very good news,” said RCAF Commander LGen. Michael Hood.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan termed the new aircrafts a “game changer” for SAR and shared that the aircrafts will enable SAR technicians to share information in realtime.
“Whether it is in mountainous terrain, in the middle of the Atlantic or over the Arctic, the C-295 is the modern and versatile aircraft we need,” Sajjan said Thursday.
The Public Works Minister stated that the contract is “not just good for Canadians but also good for the economy,” as Airbus must undertake business activities in Canada that equal the amount of the contract. Airbus is partnering with Canadian companies to create jobs to build and sustain the aircrafts, including a partnership with PAL Aerospace in Newfoundland and Labrador for the maintenance of the C-295Ws.