Canada Sea King to Cyclone CH-148 | World Defense

Canada Sea King to Cyclone CH-148

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Changing the guard: Canada transitions from Sea King to Cyclone

Canada’s programme to replace its ageing Sea King maritime helicopters with the Cyclone has been a long and protracted one. Gareth Jennings explores the key issues and milestones to date

When Canada first signed up for 28 Sikorsky S-92-derived CH-148 Cyclones to replace its ageing Sikorsky SH-3A (CH-124A/B in Canadian service) Sea King utility and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter fleet, deliveries that were due to begin in 2008 did not in fact take place until 2015.

Ordered at a cost of CAD1.9 billion (USD1.4 billion), the Cyclone helicopters developed for Canada have been mired in technological and programmatical problems that have seen Sikorsky and the Canadian government involved in a long-running dispute over the helicopter’s performance.

With the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) agreeing to accept an initial batch of six Cyclones in interim Block 1 configuration (suitable for aircrew training for operational testing in preparation for operational service), the service is now on the way to finally standing-up the platform with the operational Block 2 configuration at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Shearwater in Nova Scotia.

Speaking in 2018, the head of the Cyclone fleet and Commander of 12 Wing, Colonel Sid Connor, noted the background to the Cyclone procurement, the efforts already undertaken to constitute the Cyclone, and those that still remain before full-operating capability (FOC) can be achieved.

“In the Canadian Armed Forces anything that flies is the domain of the RCAF, and so the RCAF provides air support to the Royal Canadian Navy [RCN]) and the Canadian Army. The RCAF has been operating the Sea King for 55 years – the very same helicopters. Its mission set is operating from ships for anti-submarine warfare [ASW], anti-surface vessel warfare [ASuW], intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance [ISR], over-the-horizon targeting, search and rescue [SAR], boarding party support, and utility. That’s where we are coming from, and where we are going is the Cyclone. The idea is to go out and accomplish the same mission sets, but of course we will be doing everything differently from before,” Col Connor explained.

Enhanced capabilities
As the colonel noted, aside from their respective ages the primary difference between the outgoing Sea King and the incoming Cyclone is that the latter is a fully fly-by-wire helicopter, “a little bit heavier but pretty much the same dimensions”. The cruise speed has increased from 90 kt to 135 kt, and the Cyclone can be equipped with multiple configurations in the back of the aircraft depending on the mission to be flown.

“With a full mission system we can take six passengers with the four-person crew; we can fully gut the back-end and take 22 passengers; or we can come up with a hybrid configuration where we take some of the bulkier ASW equipment out to take a dozen-or-so passengers and still have a very capable ISR platform,” he said. “As well as operating from a ship, we also have the ability to operate autonomously away from the vessel, which means that you have to be able to take everything with you, and the mission that you brief is probably going to change a couple of times and not end up being the mission that you execute,” he added.

In terms of the mission systems, Col Connor noted that the CH-148 has dramatically improved the RCAF’s maritime helicopter force ability to look out, either in terms of the aircraft’s electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor or with its active or passive sonar systems and radar. “And now, we are also network-connected, whereas before we were totally reliant on voice communications,” he said. “In the Sea King-days, we would be pulling for information; you did what you had to do to get the information you needed to do your mission. Now, the information is coming to us in droves, and while some of it relates to your mission, you also get things that relate to other peoples’ missions, meaning you can become part of the sensor-shooter equation for a totally different mission set that is going on at the same time. This is new to us and something that we are now bravely jumping into,” he said.

The differences in performance between the Cyclone and Sea King are being felt in just about every aspect of the new helicopter’s operation, Col Connor noted, even down to flying it on and off a ship. “Even relatively simple things like taking-off from and landing on a ship are different. With the Sea King, we were focused on the pitch and roll of the ship to determine safe parameters. With the Cyclone we have found that it isn’t really about the pitch and the roll, but the acceleration of the deck. This means we can operate it in heavier seas, up to about Sea State 6.”

 

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The state-of-the-art CH-148 Cyclone is replacing the CH-124 Sea King as Canada’s main ship-borne maritime helicopter, providing air support to the Royal Canadian Navy. This new fleet of aircraft is at the forefront of modern technology and one of the most capable maritime helicopters in the world. Well equipped, the CH-148 can excel in all the missions it is designed to undertake.

The Cyclone will serve a number of key roles and participate in a variety of activities. It will conduct Surface and Subsurface Surveillance and Control, utility and search and rescue missions. It will also provide tactical transport for national and international security efforts. This twin-engine helicopter is compatible with the latest high-tech naval frigates and includes several new safety features. Its aluminum and composite airframe is built with lightning-strike and high-intensity radio frequency pulse protection. The aircraft also incorporates flaw tolerance and engine burst containment.

The versatile Cyclone can conduct its operations day and night, and in most weather conditions. The CH-148 is approximately 10% faster than a Sea King.

Technical Specifications
Length17.22 m
Length (folded configuration)14.78 m
Rotor span17.48 m
Height5.44 m
Weight9,934 kg
Maximum Gross Weight13,000 kg
PowerGeneral Electric CT7-8A7 turboshaft engines
Max. Speed287 km/h (155 knots)
Range740 km (400 NM)
Crew2 Pilots, 1 Tactical Operator, 1 Sensor Operator
Year(s) procured2015 - 2018
Quantity in CF12 as of June 2018 (28 upon complete delivery)
Location(s)
  • 12 Wing Shearwater, Nova Scotia
  • 12 Wing Patricia Bay, British Columbia

 

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Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, and Canada’s Department of National Defence, lead a team that has designed, built and configured the CH-148 Cyclone for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), maritime search and rescue (SAR), overland operations and utility missions.

As Canada’s first true intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) helicopter, the fly-by-wire Cyclone is equipped with a fully integrated mission system, modern sensors and a multi-mission cabin — providing a quantum leap in maritime helicopter capability.

Entry into service with the Royal Canadian Air Force occurred mid-2018 aboard one of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigates.

By 2021 — with delivery of all 28 Cyclone helicopter in full mission configuration — the RCAF’s 12 Wing will base the aircraft at Shearwater, Nova Scotia, and Patricia Bay, British Columbia.


World Class Maritime Capability

A full-authority fly-by-wire variant of Sikorsky’s successful S-92 helicopter, the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter provides exceptional flight handling, and is uniquely qualified to operate aboard Halifax class ships in Sea State 6 conditions.

The fully-integrated mission management system developed by General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada presents a tactical map of sea and subsurface domains to the crew of four, enabling Cyclone to operate independently of its host ship.

In Service Support infrastructure and Maritime Helicopter Training Centre developed by Sikorsky with support from L-3 Communications MAS are in place at Shearwater and Patricia Bay.



Ch 148.jpeg
Ch 148.jpg
 

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RCAF Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone crash reported
30 April 2020

A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-148 Cyclone helicopter of 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron (423 (MH) Sqn) has gone down in the Ionian Sea west of the island Kefalonia (between Greece and Italy) in the Italian Flight Information Region on 29 April 2020.

A CH-148 was onboard the Halifax-class HMCS Fredericton (FH 337), in the Mediterranean Sea as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2). Task force SNMG2 consists of four to six destroyers and frigates. Its role is to provide NATO with an immediate operational response capability. HMCS Fredericton set sail for a 6-month deployment on Operation Reassurance on January 20, 2020. The operation is Canada’s contribution to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.

Contact with the helicopter was lost early in the evening on Wednesday, around 20:15hrs (local time). The flight was briefed as a routine flight operation while the task force was at sea. NATO search and rescue teams were searching the sea area west of Kefalonia island shortly after the report of the missing helicopter. There were six people on board and their fate remains unknown.

CH-148 148822 (construction number 92-5022) of 12 Wing was reported onboard HMCS Fredericton in January and in March 2020. The serial of the fatal helicopter remains unconfirmed so far.
 

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Sad day in already troubled times . There is some really bad history between Canada and naval search helicopters . Many lives lost in SAR crashes .
 

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Canadian CH-148 Cyclone Debris Field Found, Aircraft Went Down in Fair Weather.
Updated 01 May 2020

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One crewmember is dead and five are missing in the crash of a Royal Canadian Air Force Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone multi-role helicopter in the Ionian Sea early on Thursday morning, April 30, 2020. A search and rescue effort is underway in the region to locate the missing five crewmembers. Flares were reported seen in the area according to a report by Canada’s Chronicle Herald.

The victim confirmed in the accident has been identified as 23-year old Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, a marine systems engineering officer. Sub-Lt. Cowbrough was a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada in 2018.
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File photo of 23-year old Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, marine systems engineering officer, identified as a victim in the crash of the CH-148 helicopter. (Photo: Facebook via Chronicle Herald)

The report went on the say, “Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said the cause of the crash is still unknown, but that the cockpit flight data and voice recorder have both been recovered and will be brought back to the National Research Council for analysis.”

Canadian Forces announced the CH-148 helicopter is now under an “operational pause” pending the outcome of the crash investigation.

1588337793400.png

File photo of Canadian Forces CH-148 helicopter on flight deck of HMCS Fredericton. (Photo: Cpl. Simon Arcand/Canadian Forces)

The aircraft was from the Halifax-class Canadian frigate HMCS Fredericton. It was operating as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) The helicopter was flying missions in support of Operation Reassurance, the deployment of 915 Canadian Forces personnel to central and eastern Europe to conduct training, force readiness exercises and other NATO-related operations. The operation was set to last six months.

A spokesperson for the Canadian Forces told media in a brief statement that, “Contact was lost with the aircraft as it was participating in Allied exercises off the coast of Greece”.

Weather in the region at the time of the crash was mild, with low surface winds approximately 10 MPH and temperatures in the low 60’s Fahrenheit (18° C). The moon phase indicated 49% illumination under partly cloudy skies at the time the aircraft disappeared.

Reports from the region said that, “The helicopter crashed in international waters about 80 kilometers (49 miles) off the island of Cephalonia. An Italian and a Turkish frigate were reported to be taking part in the search and rescue operation, finding debris and one body.”

The area where the accident occurred is in the central Mediterranean Sea, between the Greek peninsula and the island nation of Malta in an area called the Ionian Sea.

An Italian Air Force P-72A Maritime Patrol Aircraft was dispatched from its homebase at Sigonella Air Base to carry a SAR (Search And Rescue) operation: the aircraft could be tracked online, disclosing one of the areas where the search is focusing.

Interesting: here’s the track of the @ItalianAirForce P-72A aircraft involved in the SAR mission launched after RCAF CH-148 crash. ItaMilRadar on Twitter
— David Cenciotti (@cencio4) April 30, 2020
The Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter is a multi-role utility helicopter that began service with the Canadian Forces in 2010 to replace their aging CH-124 Sea King helicopters. But the acquisition program of the CH-148 Cyclone by the Canadian Forces has not been without questions.

According to a June 23, 2014 report on the CBC News, noted journalist James Cudmore reported that, “The Conservative government has agreed to accept new helicopters to replace Canada’s 50-year-old fleet of Sea Kings even though they don’t meet a key requirement recommended for marine helicopters by Canada’s air safety investigator, CBC News has learned.”

In contrast to the previous media reports about the CH-148, Canadian Chief of the Defense Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance told reporters today, “It’s performed well, we have 9,000 hours.”

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Photos shared on Twitter from location of ongoing search for Canadian Forces CH-148 helicopter. (Photos: Via Twitter)

CBC News writer James Cudmore also wrote in his 2014 story that, “CBC News has learned the details of what the government has agreed to forego in order to conclude a long-awaited new deal with Sikorsky, and it includes a formerly mandatory safety measure: a 30-minute run-dry standard for its main gear box. The importance of the ability to fly for 30 minutes after a loss of lubrication in the main gear box was reinforced by an investigation into a deadly 2009 crash of a Sikorsky-built helicopter. The gearbox is a kind of linkage between the helicopters engines and its rotor system. It’s packed with lubricating oil that cools the gears and keeps power flowing to the rotors. If a helicopter loses oil in its main gearbox, the system will get too hot and either seize up or otherwise fail. That would lead to a loss of power in the rotor, forcing a helicopter from the sky. A helicopter that meets the run-dry standard can continue flying for 30 minutes even if there’s no oil in the main gear box — a critical feature for helicopters flying hundreds of kilometres out to sea.”

No official cause for today’s crash has been reported, and the accident will be under official investigation by Canadian and possibly other investigative agencies.
 

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Canada says five missing in navy helicopter crash believed dead
AFP/Ottawa, Canada
Filed on May 2, 2020

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The crew of a C-148 Cyclone helicopter, attached to Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Fredricton, which crashed in the Mediterranean Sea are seen in a combination of file photos released April 30, 2020. (Reuters)

The search-and-rescue mission undertaken on Wednesday has now officially been transformed into a recovery effort, the Canadian defence ministry said in a statement.

The five missing crew members of a Canadian navy helicopter that crashed during a NATO operation this week into the Mediterranean Sea are presumed dead, officials said Friday.

The search-and-rescue mission undertaken on Wednesday has now officially been transformed into a recovery effort, the Canadian defence ministry said in a statement.

So far, the body of one crew member from the Cyclone Sikorsky CH-148 helicopter, Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, has been recovered and identified.
"The missing five members who were aboard the aircraft are now officially considered missing and presumed deceased," the statement said.
"Additional remains have been discovered during the search, but cannot be identified at this time."

The accident took place Wednesday -- the helicopter was headed back to the warship HMCS Fredericton after a training mission when contact was lost.

NATO ships and aircraft took part in the search and rescue mission, supported by Greece, Italy, Turkey and the United States.
"NATO allies will be continuing recovery efforts at the scene as HMCS Fredericton departs for port in Italy," the Canadian ministry said, adding that the warship would arrive in Italy on Saturday.

Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the helicopter's cockpit voice and flight data recorders had been recovered and would be analysed in Canada.
The cause of the crash is so far "unknown," he said.

The Canadian frigate and submarine-hunting helicopter had been deployed since January 20 on NATO's Operation Reassurance, aimed at deterring Russia intervention in eastern and central Europe.
 

Zeeman

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My best friends are in the police and active duty reservists . They got me interested and I applied as well. I already had my interview and now waiting to hear if the spot I applied for opens up. Unlike the USA our army is very small and you can join as a reservist for available spots but if you request a specific specialty you have to wait .
 

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Flight Data Recorder of Canadian NATO Helicopter Found, 5 Crew Presumed Dead
May 2, 2020
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The flight data recorder of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-148 Cyclone helicopter that crashed during a NATO operation in the Mediterranean Sea on April 29, has been recovered.

Five missing crew members aboard the helicopter at the time of the incident are now presumed dead.

“At this time, one member, Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, a Marine Systems Engineering Officer, originally from Toronto, Ontario, has been confirmed deceased. The missing five members who were aboard the aircraft are now officially considered missing and presumed deceased. Today, the search and rescue efforts of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) officially transitioned into search and recovery efforts, following Wednesday’s tragic accident,” Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) said in a statement.

The cause of the accident is not known. “We have recovered the flight data recorder from the helicopter,” Harjit Sajjan, Defence Minister of Canada, said.

The helicopter was deployed with HMCS Fredericton in the Mediterranean Sea as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 under Operation REASSURANCE. At the time of the accident, the Canadian ship was conducting collaborative training with Italian and Turkish ships. The Cyclone was conducting concurrent flight operations.

NATO Allies will be continuing recovery efforts at the scene as HMCS Fredericton departs for port in Italy. The ship is expected to arrive the morning of May 2, 2020, local time in Italy.
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“Troubled Cyclone Fleet”
An “operational pause” on the Cyclone helicopter fleet has been imposed by the Canadian military, until it rules out any fleet-wide problems. The Cyclone is a military variant of the Sikorsky S-92.

“I don’t have any concerns about the helicopter. I don’t have any lack of confidence in the fleet,” Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance was quoted as saying by Ottawa Citizen.

The Canadian government had considered shelving the $5.7 billion CH-148 helicopter procurement project intended to replace the ageing CH-124 Sea King choppers, in September 2013. According to Ottawa Citizen, the reason behind it was Sikorsky’s failure to deliver what was ordered. The helicopters were eventually accepted by the RCAF but with reportedly less capabilities than originally contracted for. Deliveries began in 2015 after repeated delays. Three years later, the first Cyclone was sent on its first international deployment.

In 2009, concerns were raised after an S-92 being used in the oil industry crashed off the east coast, killing 17 on board.

Last year, a CH-148 experienced hard landing on board a supply ship operating west of Hawaii. There were no serious injuries during the incident but the helicopter was damaged as it slammed into the deck of the ship.
“The incident was caused by an unusual gust of wind,” Vance said.

In a report on the status of the Cyclone program, released in October 2010, then Auditor General Sheila Fraser pointed out that the CH-148s lacked capabilities in areas of mission system software and in the exchange of tactical data between ships and the helicopter.
 

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Fatal Cyclone crash just the latest tragedy in tortured saga of Canada's military helicopters
After 'the worst procurement in ... history,' Canada's ship-borne helicopters face new questions
Max Paris · CBC News · Last Updated: June 12
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It was called "the worst procurement in the history of Canada" by a former Conservative defence minister.

The Canadian Armed Forces' journey from the Sea King helicopter to the Cyclone CH-148 was long and, in the words of another minister, "torturous."

With the arrival of the new Cyclones in 2018, it appeared that long journey was over.

Then, a crash at the end of April cost the lives of two sailors and four airmen — once again fixing a spotlight on the twists, turns, false starts and compromises involved in getting new air force choppers on navy ships.

 

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Canadian CH-149 Cormorant Helicopter Damaged By A Curious Polar Bear


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File photo. A Canadian CH-149 Cormorant helicopter begins to descend during a hoisting exercise. The Cormorant, the Canadian Air Force's only helicopter dedicated to search and rescue, is fully equipped with an ice protection system and can cover approximately 621 miles on one tank of gas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Cathleen Snow). (Photos in the boxes: Royal Canadian Air Force)

The episode happened after the crew had to divert because of adverse weather and the helicopter was parked at a remote airfield.

An unusual incident happened on Sept. 16, 2020, when a polar bear damaged CH-149 Cormorant, serial 149911, of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The helicopter, which belongs to the 413 (Transport and Rescue) Squadron at 14 Wing Greenwood, was performing a planned two-week mountain flying search and rescue exercise and diverted to Saglek airfield in Labrador after poor weather prevented the aircrew from landing at their preferred location, according to a Twitter post of the RCAF.

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On September 16, a CH-149 Cormorant crew with 413 (Transport and Rescue) Squadron at 14 Wing Greenwood parked its helicopter at the Saglek, Newfoundland and Labrador, airfield after poor weather prevented them from landing at their preferred location. pic.twitter.com/vYC5V1vE11
— Royal Canadian Air Force (@RCAF_ARC) September 30, 2020
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The polar bear did not get inside the helicopter and there were no crew members in the vicinity at the time. After an inspection, repairs were completed and the crew resumed flights on their planned two-week mountain flying search and rescue exercise.
— Royal Canadian Air Force (@RCAF_ARC) September 30, 2020
According to a statement released by Lt.Col. Brent Vaino, the squadron commander, to CBC/Radio Canada, the preferred location where the helicopter was headed was a nearby automated radar station, about 4 km from the airfield and at higher altitude, but because of the weather they had to land at the airfield which is closer to sea level.

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A close up photo shows the damage to the helicopter. (RCAF)


The radar station, known also as Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Saglek, was built in the 1950s by the U.S. Air Force together with the airfield. After the US transferred the control of both locations to the Canadian Forces, the station obtained new radars and was added to the North Warning System, a joint U S and Canadian early-warning radar system for the atmospheric air defense of North America operated and maintained by North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The radar installation is listed as “minimally attended”, while Saglek airfield is listed in the Canada Flight Supplement as abandoned.

Lt.Col Vaino explained: “The crew had to park the aircraft down below, not up at elevation like they wanted to. Because of that, it’s an area with a body of water on either side and polar bears do occasionally transit on either side of them, and this case that’s what happened.”

The perils of flying in the north!
A curious polar bear damaged an @RCAF_ARC Cormorant at Saglek airport in Labrador last week! pic.twitter.com/LMpH0fVUgu
— Mike Bechthold (@mike_bechthold) September 28, 2020
Normally, a security detachment travels with the helicopter however, to reduce the risk of exposing the remote community to COVID-19, the number of military personnel on the training mission was restricted. During the night, while the crew was sleeping at the radar station, the curious polar bear began to investigate the helicopter. The RCAF stated that the bear caused “superficial damage”, popping an emergency entrance window on the right side door, another emergency entrance window on the rear left side and the cover of what should be the emergency floatation device on the left side, just below the cockpit.

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The “superficial damage” suffered by the Cormorant helicopter (RCAF).

As stated by the RCAF, the bear did not get inside the helicopter and the crew was unarmed as they were not in the vicinity of the helicopter. According to CBC, the repairs took four days because of the adverse weather that prevented an unspecified RCAF fixed wing aircraft from delivering the replacement parts to Saglek. After another helicopter delivered the spares, the Cormorant was finally repaired and flown out of the remote location.
 
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