Canada is looking at boosting is search-and-rescue forces by accelerating the replacement of its 40-year-old CC-115 Buffalos and exploring the option of buying or leasing more CH-149 Cormorants. The plan to purchase up to 17 new fixed-wing SAR aircraft could be presented for cabinet approval early next year, says defense minister Peter MacKay in an interview. The program is expected to cost C$3 billion including through-life support.
Photo: Canadian Forces
Separately, the Department of National Defense is considering a range of options to increase the availability of its search-and-rescue helicopters. A report published earlier this year said availability of the 14 Cormorants was 50%, well short of the 75% expected. Better spares provisioning and maintenance changes have since improved availability, says manufacturer AgustaWestland, but acquiring another four or five Cormorants is one option being considered, says chief of air staff Lt Gen Angus Watt in an interview.