AgustaWestland sees SAR in presidential parts
When the Canadian government acquired nine VH-71s in the summer of 2011 to provide spare parts for its fleet of CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopters, it was hailed as a savvy business move.

The United States, after all, was cancelling its presidential helicopter program and the VH-71, an updated version of the 149, offered Canada much needed parts for a relative bargain of $163 million.

That decision also prompted some discussion at AgustaWestland (AW), the rotorcraft’s manufacturer. AW sold National Defence 15 SAR Cormorants in 2002 and, following a training accident, the fleet of 14 is now approaching 10 years of service and 50,000 hours of operating life. Furthermore, availability has been called “barely adequate,” according to a briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay. The Cormorant has been replaced by Griffons at CFB Trenton, allowing the 14 to respond to SAR incidents from Comox on Vancouver Island and Greenwood and Gander on the East Coast.

AW has suggested that if it reconfigured seven of the nine VH-71s to SAR specifications and undertook a midlife upgrade of the current 14, similar to what the U.K. is doing with its fleet of Merlin helicopters, a variant of the EH 101, Canada would then have 21 to blanket the country. More important, the restoration of Cormorants to Trenton would allow the CF to provide SAR coverage to the Arctic without adding a northern base. As part of the VH-71 deal, the government also acquired an Air Transport Kit; if one Cormorant were kept on standby in the ATK, it could be loaded onto a C-17 in one hour, said Jeremy Tracy, head of region for Canada.

CCV program helps Nexter gain exposure
Win or lose Canada’s Close Combat Vehicle competition, Nexter Systems will have increased its footprint in North America. The French company, which submitted two bids for the government’s performance evaluation program now underway at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen test centre in Maryland, acknowledged it is demonstrating its combat-proven capability to more than just a Canadian audience – American evaluators will hopefully also take note.

The two vehicles, the CCV-25 and the CCV-30, are based on Nexter’s VBCI wheeled 8×8 platform currently in use by the French army. One features a 25 mm one-man turret while the other carries a 30mm two-man turret manufactured by Oto Melara Finmeccanica.

While there has been debate about tracked versus wheeled in this competition, Patrick Lier, vice president of sales and business development, said architecturally the wheeled vehicle is easier to protect and more cost effective in terms of fuel, spares and repairs. It’s also a mature vehicle with “all of the risk taken out of it,” he said. The French army has fielded about 250 of a 630 order in Afghanistan and Lebanon and survived IED strikes without a fatality.

Mike Duckworth, executive vice president international affairs, said Nexter has adopted a new business model focused on exports that emphasizes partnering. If one of its CCV bids is successful, Bombardier Transportation will assemble the vehicles at its facility in Quebec while Raytheon Canada’s service and support division in Calgary will deliver the in-service support. Prevost Bus of Sainte-Claire will build the engines.

The results of the CCV competition are expected this spring.

Find me a flight…into space
With Canada’s RADARSAT Constellation expected to receive government approval in 2012, and a possible investment in the U.S.-led Wideband Global Satellite program, space could feature prominently in the New Year.

Canadian companies and agencies have carved out a unique position in a growing international market. Wary of tightening budgets, Steve MacLean, head of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), told a recent summit hosted by the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada that space assets should be essential instruments of government infrastructure.

Enhanced situational awareness through space-based capabilities, especially in the Arctic, is important to more than the military. But if Canadian companies are to continue developing high value technologies, they need platforms on which to showcase them. In a word, government’s primary role should be “fly,” said Iain Christie, president of Neptec Design. Whether the CSA has to beg, borrow or buy, it is vital it “find ways to get our stuff on board” space flights, he pleaded. Without that flight heritage, it is difficult to make the case for new technologies to international customers.

Michael Pley of Com Dev International suggested the need for more collaboration among government, industry and academia to ensure long-term planning. He also urged government to be a “first user” of new technology.

Several delegates suggested Canada’s space program is at a “crossroads,” but with a bright future if it makes the right investments. “We determine our own fate,” said David Schellenberg, president of Cascade Aerospace and the chairman of AIAC. “Let’s take full advantage of the stars being aligned.


IMP Aerospace has completed worked on the first of 10 CP-140 Aurora aircraft to receive structural upgrades. The maritime surveillance aircraft are undergoing both a structural life extension program and a mission computer system upgrade. All 10 Auroras are expected to complete the $1.5 billion combined modernization program by 2014.

The last two of Canada’s 17 CC-130Js rolled to the front of Lockheed Martin’s production line in Marietta in December. Canada has received 13 of the new Super Hercules and will receive the final four by mid 2012.

The members of 442 Squadron stationed at CFB Comox were recognized in November for a daring cliff-side rescue of a B.C. hiker. The squadron was honoured with the Cormorant Trophy for Helicopter Rescue, an annual award presented by AgustaWestland.

Bombardier Aerospace and the National Research Council confirmed a multi-year framework agreement that covers research, development and testing in areas of interest to both organizations, and will help Bombardier advance its research in aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics, structures and materials, acoustics, multi-disciplinary optimization, aircraft interiors and electromagnetic interference.

For the fourth year in a row, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters and the National Research Council recognized Marport Deep Sea Technologies for developing innovative technologies. Marport was selected primarily for its AquaPix Synthetic Aperture Sonar that provides high-speed, high-resolution underwater imaging.

NGRAIN has been awarded DND contracts to develop its Virtual Task Trainer solutions for the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force to support instruction of complex theory of operations and maintenance procedures on the CC-138 Twin Otter aircraft, Field Heater, and Light-Armoured Vehicle III Differential.

Boeing renewed a contract with Messier-Dowty, part of the Safran group, to manufacture nose landing gear assemblies for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, for approximately US$200 million. Messier-Dowty also provides Boeing with main and nose landing gear for the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.

Kongsberg opened a new production facility in London under the name Kongsberg Protech Systems, Canada to produce advanced Remote Weapon Stations for the Canadian Forces and international markets.