Janes Defence


August 24, 2012


Title: Canadian coast guard on the market for new helicopters


The Canadian coast guard is looking to buy 24 new helicopters. Public Works and Government Services Canada published a Letter of Interest on August 20th inviting suppliers to attend an industry day, to consult and exchange ideas regarding specific needs and equipment availability.


The Canadian Coast Guard currently operates 22 aging choppers, eight supplied by Bell Helicopter (five 212s and three 206s) and 14 Eurocopters (105s).  Many of these are approaching the wrong side of their past due dates, with half the fleet more than a quarter century old. Canada has not added a new Coast Guard helicopter in more than 15 years.


According to a spokesman at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the new helicopters are slated to be used primarily in traditional roles such as ensuring the maintenance of Coast Guard communications systems, providing aid to navigation, fisheries enforcement, ice reconnaissance and environmental response.


The new craft will however have a key additional mandate: supporting Canada’s new polar icebreaker, the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, on its future Arctic sovereignty patrol missions. Melting polar ice has focused the country’s attention on its northern regions (thought to contain massive natural resource reserves) as never before.


Canada’s Harper Government set the stage for the new acquisitions in its most recent budget when it set aside CDN $5.2 billion for the procurement of the new helicopters as well as additional vessels for the Coast Guard. The latter will be built by Vancouver Shipyards as part of Canada’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. The first of these vessels to be produced is expected to be an Offshore Fisheries and Science Vessel.


The new Canadian Coast Guard helicopters, which will be purchased over the coming five years, will be deployed across the country throughout 11 bases in five major regions and are expected to have a service life of 30 years. Keith Ashfield, the Minster of Fisheries and Oceans, noted the importance of the economic benefits that they purchases will have for the country’s aerospace sector. However department officials would not immediately specify their requirements for the helicopters, nor which Canadian or international manufacturers were in the best position to meet them.






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