Mark Collins – We Have a Winner! RCAF Fixed-Wing SAR: 16 Airbus C295W for $2.4B

Initial cost, after a twelve-year process! Further to this post,

New RCAF Fixed-Wing SAR Plane Choice Real Soon?

a deal at long-last done (note at end of post additional refueling, transport roles which the government does not mention for some reason):

Airbus chosen to build Canada’s new search planes, ending 12-year procurement odyssey
16 Airbus C-295 aircraft announced by ministers, head of air force at CFB Trenton

The Canadian military will receive new fixed-wing search and rescue planes in a two-step procurement that will cost taxpayers $4.7 billion over the next two decades.

The selection of European defence giant Airbus end a 12-year, frustrating odyssey that spans three governments.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Public Works Minister Judy Foote and the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lt.-Gen. Michael Hood, announced the deal at the country’s largest military air base in Trenton, Ont., which is also one of the principal search and rescue stations.

Conservatives made ‘political’ decision to cut military flying time in 2014, Laurie Hawn says

The first phase — with a pricetag of $2.4 billion — involves the purchase of 16 C-295W aircraft modified for search and rescue missions.

A training simulator, to be located in Comox, B.C., and 11 years of in-service support and maintenance [with a Canadian company, see below] will be included.

An additional in-service support program will have to be negotiated with Airbus. That cost is estimated at $2.3 billion.

Taken together, the combined price tag is considerably more than the $3.8 billion approved by the former Conservative government in 2011, and higher still from the original $3.1 billion price tag affixed to the plan when Paul Martin’s government first announced it in 2004.

The turbo-prop C-295 is in use in 15 countries, mostly for military transport but also for maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare…

It was Paul Martin’s Liberal government that started the competition in 2004 [as a “major priority”! see top right here]…

…the first planes are expected to arrive in 2019 and the final delivery will take place in 2022 — 18 years after they were originally ordered [emphasis added, but after procurement intention announced–no order in 2004].

It cannot have hurt Airbus that the C295W has Pratt & Whitney Canada engines whereas the main competitor, the Leonardo-Finmeccanica (company’s new name) C-27J, does not.

Image:

c295w.jpg
Canada Selects Airbus C295W for Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue
Photo Credit: Hand-out / Airbus Defence and Space

From the government’s new release–jobs! jobs! jobs!


Following a rigorous, open and transparent competition, the Government of Canada today announced the awarding of a contract for $2.4 billion to Airbus Defence and Space to replace Canada’s fleets of CC115 Buffalo and legacy CC130 Hercules aircraft. The company has partnered with Newfoundland-based PAL Aerospace for maintenance and support services [emphasis added, PAL website here].The contract will provide a complete, modern and technologically advanced search and rescue solution, including maintenance and support services up to 2043.

As part of this contract, Airbus will provide 16 C295W aircraft, equipped with advanced technology systems, to support Canada’s search and rescue operations, construct a new simulator-equipped training centre in Comox, British Columbia, and provide ongoing maintenance and support services. The contract also includes options to extend the maintenance and support services for an additional 15 years. Should Canada choose to exercise these additional options, the contract value would increase to $4.7 billion.

The new technology being acquired includes state-of-the-art communications systems that will allow search and rescue personnel to share real-time information with partners on the ground. Using integrated sensors, crews will be able to locate persons or objects, such as downed aircraft, from more than 40 kilometres away, even in low-light conditions.

As part of its proposal Airbus Defence and Space has committed to make investments in the Canadian economy equal to the value of the contract, creating and maintaining good middle class jobs. Through Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy [website here], the company will incorporate many of Canada’s leading aerospace firms into its global supply chain and establish strategic partnerships with Canadian companies to ensure the aircraft are supported in Canada by Canadians. This work will help grow Canada’s innovative and strong aerospace sector, while providing well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it [emphasis added, last phrase is now really hurl-worthy]…

Related Products

Backgrounder: A modern and effective search and rescue solution for the Canadian Armed Forces 
Backgrounder: Fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft procurement process
Infographic: Procuring Canada’s future fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft 
Infographic: Capability

Associated Links

Public Services and Procurement Canada: Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft Replacement 
National Defence: Investing in Equipment 
Royal Canadian Air Force:  Search and Rescue Search and Rescue in Canada: A shared responsibility
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada: Industrial and Technological Benefits

And from the Airbus news release–note additional roles near end:


The C295W features substantial Canadian content. Every C295 is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada engines, pilots and technicians will be trained at a new facility developed by CAE in Comox, BC, and the electro-optical systems for FWSAR will be provided by L3 Wescam of Burlington, ON. In-service support for the life of the program will be provided by AirPro, a joint venture between Airbus Defence and Space and PAL Aerospace of St John’s, Newfoundland. In-service support will be conducted by Canadians in Canada.

[Simon] Jacques [Head of Airbus Defence and Space in Canada] added: “About 20 percent of the aircraft is already Canadian, meaning that it already serves as a global ambassador for the skills, innovation and expertise of Canadians. Now it will get to serve them directly.”

Canada’s C295Ws will be delivered starting three years after contract award. In service, they will join five Airbus CC-150 aircraft used in the air-to-air refueling, transport [emphasis added–why doesn’t the government mention those subsidiary roles?], and VIP travel roles.

When the contract is finalized, 185 C295s will have been ordered by 25 countries…

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.

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

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