links open in new window

Saturday, July 24, 2004

On the chopper-ing block...



So...Canada finally gets new helicopters...sort of...eventually...
SHEARWATER, N.S. (CP) - The federal government, in a bid to calm a whirlwind of political debate, announced Friday it plans to buy 28, bargain-priced Sikorsky Cyclones to replace Canada's geriatric fleet of Sea King helicopters.

New Defence Minister Bill Graham announced the $5 billion project, which includes maintenance and service support costs over the aircrafts' expected 20-year contract. The plan was unveiled in front of a squad of Sea King pilots and crew - most of them far younger than the aircraft they fly - at a military air base near Halifax.
[LINK]
For far too many years Canada has been flying a rather ancient collection of Sea King helicopters (described by some as "ten thousand parts flying in formation" - the first of them started flying in 1963) which should have (and, more importantly, could have) been replaced years ago but, politics being what it is, it has taken an extra ten years to get some kind of a deal in place (the usual complaints from the ususal susupects are being loudly heard) and it will be another four years (at least) before Canada takes delivery of the first of the birds (meaning we can probably look forward to at least one more fatal incident with the Sea Kings).

Of course, this assumes that we won't somehow get saddled with a government that will pull a version of Dear Jean's cancellation of the (Conservative's) 1993 EH-101 contract...