Canada awards $1.2 billion contract for 15 Chinooks
Aug. 11, 2009 - The Canadian military will receive 15 new Chinook
helicopters to strengthen its ability to reach isolated regions and
respond to disasters at home and abroad.
Aug. 11, 2009 – The Canadian military will receive 15 new Chinook helicopters to strengthen its ability to reach isolated regions and respond to disasters at home and abroad, the federal government has announced after three years of delays.
Chicago-based aircraft giant Boeing was awarded a $1.2-billion contract to build the medium- to heavy-lift CH-147F Chinooks in a deal that has been eagerly anticipated by the Armed Forces since Ottawa first proposed it in 2006.
The project will also involve a 20-year, in-service support and maintenance contract valued at about $2.2 billion.
"Today marks an announcement of yet one more step forward to ensuring that the Canadian Forces remain a first-class, modern and flexible force respected and protected in what they do,'' Defence Minister Peter MacKay told a news conference.
"We are determined to provide the equipment _ the very best possible equipment _ to our men and women in uniform so that they can continue to do their jobs safely and effectively.''
The initial proposal, announced by the federal government in June 2006, called for 16 helicopters. Shortly afterward, Ottawa invoked a notice, citing national security concerns, that named Boeing as the only company capable of delivering the required aircraft by 2010.
But the project was marred by rising costs and fell behind schedule.
However, MacKay said Monday the final order will result in the development of choppers that will have greater fuel capacity, allowing them to fly longer, and an upgraded electronic system.
"What we will be receiving with 15 aircraft is actually a more advanced aircraft,'' MacKay said.
He said the final decision was made on the advice of the air force in conjunction with Industry Canada.
The acquisition of the Chinooks is a welcome and highly awaited boost for the military, retired general Paul Manson said.
"It's overdue,'' Manson said in an interview.
Manson, who served as Canada's chief of defence staff from 1986 to 1989, said the federal government should reduce the number of regulatory constraints to expedite major military procurements, such as the Chinook project.
"It's a serious problem that Canada has encountered over recent years the length of time it takes to bring in a major equipment procurement program for the Canadian Armed Forces,'' he said.
Delivery of the first Chinooks is expected between 2013 and 2014, two to three years after Canadian combat forces are expected to withdraw from Afghanistan.
"That's unfortunate, but it is restoring a capability that is very much needed,'' Manson said.
Canada used to have seven Chinook helicopters but sold them to the Dutch during the budget cuts of the 1990s.
Halifax-based IMP Aerospace has been enlisted to manufacture some of the key components for the Chinooks, including the doors and avionic systems.
According to an analysis done for Boeing, the Chinook project is expected to generate 5,500 jobs.
MacKay said no decision has been made on where the Chinooks will be based. But it's expected all 15 will be located at the same base.
"The initial estimate of operating from … two bases was going to be quite costly,'' said Lt.-Col. Duart Townsend, one of the
senior project co-ordinators.
"The aircraft will be able to fly longer distances and has upgraded avionics … that allows the aircraft to operate from a single base across the range of operations in Canada, wherever it would be expected to operate.''