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Canadian forces prepare for Cyclone arrival

24th February 2011 - 14:32 by the Shephard News Team

Housing for the anticipated CH-148 Cyclone helicopters for the Canadian Forces (CF) is to be built in the form of a new C$155 million facility in Esquimalt, British Columbia.

The building project for the maritime aircraft will replace CF Base Esquimalt’s existing 60-year-old hangar, and will include a 20,000 square-metre facility that will consolidate operations into one building, according to a CF statement released on 23 February. 

As well as the building, the project includes: an exterior aircraft parking apron for up to five CH-148s; a taxiway linking this apron to the runway; a re-fuelling and wash area; parking for up to 300 vehicles; and a guard house with security barriers and a perimeter security fence.

The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper described the new facility and aircraft as a ‘solid investment’ in the future of naval aviation in Canada.

The infrastructure is to be in place by the time the first nine of the 28 Cyclones ordered are scheduled to arrive at the base in 2014. It is expected to generate more than 800 jobs during the full construction period.

The CFB Esquimalt is home to the 433 Maritime Helicopter Squadron of the CF, and the new facility will serve and house the needs of the fleet, as well as 350 personnel. 

At least one existing building will be demolished during the project, and the CF said that given the requirement for more space and an appropriate fire-suppression system for the new aircraft, it is considered it to be more cost effective to build a new facility rather than renovate the current 60-year-old hangar.

After a five year delay, an on-going dispute regarding the purchase of the maritime helicopters was settled at the end of June when 28 Cyclones were ordered to replace the primary Canadian shipboard helicopter, the CH-124 Sea King.

Built by Sikorsky under a US$1.8 billion contract, the programme was delayed due to issues surrounding the General Dynamics mission system integration aboard the aircraft.

In June 2010, Sikorsky announced that as a meantime measure the CF would receive six interim CH-148 Cyclones in November 2010.

However, on 7 January Sikorsky said: ‘We have notified the Canadian government that there will be a short delay in delivery of the first aircraft due to an issue outside of our control. Our contract contains provisions for such events, and we are now in discussions with the Crown in keeping with those provisions.’

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