Osprey rising to SAR credibility
Is the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey flying its way into serious consideration as Canada’s next search and rescue aircraft? The tilt-rotor aircraft has been piling up credits as well as more than 100,000 flight hours, in Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently off the coast of Africa. Last March, when a United States Air Force F-15E went down in Libya, a Marine Corps Osprey was on the scene to rescue a downed pilot. Since then, it has been revealed that in June 2010, two Special Operations CV-22s made an 800-mile round trip from Kandahar to mountains near Kunduz and rescued 32 people from a downed helicopter under fire.

Last month, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 “self-deployed” from Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, NC, to Belize in Central America. Refuelling from KC-130 tankers, the Ospreys made the 1300-mile flight in one hop, to demonstrate, in the words of a USMC article, “the Osprey’s enhanced utility over conventional helicopters” and “extraordinary capability to conduct over-the-horizon operations and deal with a variety of situations when called upon.”

The knock against the V-22 for the Canadian SAR role has always been price. At more than $100 million a copy, simple arithmetic would seem to rule it out. But Boeing executives insist that as time goes by, prices will come down, so the slow pace of the SAR competition may well have worked to their advantage. The V-22 sales force also makes the point that their unique combination of fixed and rotary wing performance may offer capabilities that, in a straight comparison, could only be matched by both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft together.

The Canadian SAR project appears finally to be going ahead, with industry consultation and more flexible requirements. Bell-Boeing could know within months if those requirements are flexible enough.

TAPV: Test now in session
Bidding for the army’s tactical armoured patrol vehicle (TAPV) program closed in August and the five contenders now face a “very complex” performance evaluation program at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen test centre in Maryland.

Of note, cost will not be the deciding factor in the government’s contract award. Speaking at DEFSEC Atlantic in September, Dan Ross, ADM Material, indicated that cost would affect just 25 percent of the final decision. The other 75 percent would be weighted on mobility, firepower and protection, all of which will be evaluated by an independent third party at Aberdeen, he said.

The contenders include Force Protection’s Timberwolf, a follow on to the Cougar family. Force Protection recently added Malley Industries of Dieppe, NB, to its team to provide final assembly after the two companies were introduced a year ago at DEFSEC 2010. Also in the running are Textron Systems Canada, which submitted its 4×4 Mobile Survivable Vehicle, a partnership with Rheinmetall, Kongsberg Protech Systems and Engineering Office Deisenroth; BAE Systems Land Systems, in partnership with DEW Engineering and Thales Canada, with the RG 35; and an Oshkosh-General Dynamics Land Systems team that has submitted a vehicle based on Oshkosh’s Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle platform.

In total, the TAPV program calls for 500 vehicles, with an option for 100 more.

L-3 MAPPS received a contract to supply the Royal Canadian Navy with degaussing systems for the 12 Kingston-class maritime coastal defence vessels…

Earlier in September, L-3 MAPPS announced it had teamed with B.C.’s Offshore Systems to provide an Integrated Ship Management System for navy programs…

Montreal-based Bombardier delivered the first of four high-speed Global 5000 jets to the German Ministry of Defence’s Special Mission Wing in September. The jets will be used for VIP transport and medical evacuation…

DND selected Esterline CMC Electronics to supply its latest generation flight management system and high-performance global positioning/system wide area augmentation system sensor for the avionics upgrade of the A310 fleet of five multi-role transport and tanker aircraft…

As part of its IRB commitments, Boeing has developed a partnership with Dalhousie University to support a range of R&D projects, including advanced materials development and unconventional approaches for the use of mobile devices…

General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada confirmed it will offer its PIRANHA 5 fitted with Rheinmetall’s LANCE 30mm Modular Turret System for the close combat vehicle program.