An aerospace consortium that is pitching the Alenia- Aermacchi C-27 J military transport as Canada’s new fixed-wing search and rescue plane is proposing to build a new aircraft training facility in Comox, B.C. is it wins the $3 billion contract to replace the military’s existing fleet of SAR aircraft.

Team Spartan, which is headed by Italian aerospace company Leonardo-Finmeccanica and made up of General Dynamics Mission Systems Canada, DRS Technologies Canada and other companies announced plans to erect a three-storey, 73,000-square foot facility in Comox to house several instruction classrooms, an air maintenance training hangar, as well as, full-flight and sensor-operator simulator for the C-27J Spartan.

The training centre and training support system will be designed, built and managed by a team of Canadian-based companies led by DRS Technologies Canada Ltd., according to Steven Lucas, former head of the Royal Canadian Air Force and now Team Spartan spokesman.

Other consortiums competing for the FWSAR contract include a team led by Airbus which is proposing the C-295 and Embraer which is offering the KC-390.

The FWSAR program was originally meant to replace the air force’s remaining fleet of six DeHavilland CC-115 Buffalos and relieve the air force’s fleet of CC-130 Hercules fleet of its SAR duties.

The Buffalos were purchased as far back as 1967. The plan to replace them began back in 2002 with a funding of $1.3 billion for 15 new aircraft. Since then the cost of the project has ballooned and provisions have changed. Now it is up for the companies bidding for the contract to submit the in their bids the number of aircraft they believe will be needed for Canada’s FWSAR operations.