Mark Collins – RCAF Fixed-Wing SAR Bids In: No LockMart But Embraer

Plus the two perpetual suspects.  Further to this post last year,

RCAF Fixed-Wing SAR Aircraft RFPs Slip Into Next Year[2016]

the news at at Skies magazine–note contract award expected late 2016/early 2017:

FWSAR RFP nets three bids

There are three twin-engine contenders for a multi-billion-dollar contract to supply new fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force, Skies confirmed on Jan. 14. The new aircraft will replace the RCAF’s aging fleet of deHavilland Canada CC-115 Buffalo and Lockheed Martin CC-130H Hercules aircraft, that are currently used for SAR [webpages here and here respectively].
The C-295, built in Spain by a division of Airbus Defence & Space, is one of three contenders. Airbus Photo [more from Airbus here]
In an email sent three days after the request for proposals (RFP) deadline on Jan. 11, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) said only that three companies had submitted bids [project website here]. As a matter of policy it did not identify them, but Skies confirmed independently that two turboprops—Airbus Military’s C295W built in Spain and Alenia Aermacchi’s C-27J Spartan built in Italy—have been proposed. Brazil’s Embraer, a latecomer to the project, is also offering its KC-390 jet.
Brazil’s Embraer, a latecomer to the project, is offering its KC-390 jet. Embraer Photo [webpage here]
Some time ago, Lockheed Martin was thought to be considering entering its C-130J Hercules, already flying in the RCAF [webpage here]. As late as Jan. 13, the U.S. manufacturer was neither confirming nor denying that it had submitted a bid, and no explanation was offered for its decision not to proceed…
Alenia Aermacchi’s C-27J Spartan, built in Italy, has also been proposed. Alenia Aermacchi Photo [website here]

“The master copy takes precedence over the paper copies, and there is a process in place where bidders may be requested to clarify information or correct any inadvertent errors or omissions,” PSPC told Skies. “Bid evaluation, which includes aircraft testing, is expected to take about six months, and a contract award is anticipated sometime in the late 2016, early 2017 timeframe.”

Remember that in 2004 the Liberal government said first delivery of new SAR planes would take place in 2005–see latter part of this post.  Just suppose delivery of the winner of this contract starts in, say, 2018.  That would be thirteen years late.  Wow.

Something else to keep in mind–the RCAF’s 32 older-model Hercules are being followed-on by just 17 new C-130Js, so the RCAF has always wanted the new SAR aircraft to be able to double when necessary as a tactical transport in order to keep that capability up (see e.g. 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron):

Air force Col. Dave Burt, director of aerospace requirements, said at the time [2004] that search and rescue was the priority, adding that the service wanted “something that is smaller and (more) cost efficient than a Hercules but still has some of the transport-type qualities that a Hercules has.” 

Although the aircraft would be used for search and rescue, there may be room to have them perform a secondary role of airlift if that is deemed feasible, Burt added… 

Something that has not been mentioned for years for no good reason that I can understand; but all three competitors can also perform that transport role.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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