Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Six New Cyclone Maritime Helicopters Accepted by Ottawa after Years of Delays

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Six New Cyclone Maritime Helicopters Accepted by Ottawa after Years of Delays

Article excerpt

Six new helicopters accepted by Ottawa

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HALIFAX - The Conservative government has formally accepted the first six of the long-delayed CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters.

Public Works Minister Diane Finley and Defence Minister Jason Kenney made the announcement Friday at the Shearwater air base in Nova Scotia in front of three of the Cyclones, which have been on the base for testing purposes.

Finley said she realizes the arrival of the first helicopters in the $5.7-billion project has taken far too long.

"In fact this procurement has had a torturous history, but in 2013 we brought in external experts and we committed to fixing this problem," she said.

"We announced last January we would put a plan in place to ensure the delivery of initial capability helicopters in June 2015 and through a lot of hard work and dedication we've kept that promise."

The original contract signed by the Paul Martin Liberal government in 2004 called for the Cyclones to be delivered in November 2008, with deliveries of all 28 helicopters completed by early 2011.

The Harper government signed a deal a year ago to amend its contract with Sikorsky Aircraft -- the U.S. manufacturer of the helicopter -- after repeated delays and problems meeting the original specifications.

As part of the renegotiation, the Royal Canadian Air Force revisited its list of expected capabilities, and was asked to spell out clearly what aspects were essential as opposed to what they would like to see in the aircraft.

Finley told reporters the helicopters that had been accepted were capable of being used on missions on warships, but she added work remained to be done on the aircraft.

"They're in accordance with amendments to contracts that were made, but we'll be continuing to work with Sikorsky on upgrades."

Evaluators of the Cyclones have previously raised questions about the helicopter's ability to stay airborne in the event of an oil loss. …

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