Editorial: MHP Becomes PCP
July 18, 2007 By Mike Reyno
It is almost 10 years since Prime Minister Jean Chrétien came to
power and cancelled the contract to replace the CH-113 Labrador and the
CH-124 Sea King with the EH101.He was scarcely elected when he made
good on his campaign bid to cancel the previous government’s contract
for 45 EH101s. It was a promise that he had made without consulting
anyone, and would be the first of his many off-the-cuff specials. But
his decision was supported by much of the voting public and the general
media, primarily due to misinformation. At one time the Toronto Globe
and Mail reported the contract to be worth $8 billion!
While the Air Force is happily taking delivery of 15 CH-149
Cormorants, nine delivered at last count, to replace its Labradors for
search and rescue, there is still no sign of a new helicopter to
replace its Sea Kings. It was known 15 years ago that the Sea Kings,
with their archaic mission systems, were nearing the end of their
useful life as maritime helicopters. But here we are today and the Sea
Kings are still soldiering on, but it is only because of the dedication
of the people who maintain and fly them off Canada’s coasts and
internationally in such places as the Middle East where they are
supporting Operation Apollo.
Maritime helicopter crews are fed up as project deadlines for the
Maritime Helicopter Project (MHP) come and go. Now they simply don’t
listen. Just as frustrated by how long the project is taking are the
potential helicopter and integrated mission system suppliers. It has
reached the point where the political interference has become
embarrassing. Off the record, the would-be bidders say that they have
resigned themselves for some time to the political realities of what
one supplier is calling the ‘politically correct project’ or PCP.
Common sense no longer applies. Specifically, I’m referring to the
decision to move ahead with a split-procurement process, which in the
case of a naval helicopter is a bad decision.