Cyclone helicopter procurement delayed again
Defence Minister Peter MacKay inspects a new Canadian military Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter at 12 Wing Shearwater in Halifax on Thursday May 26, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)
Published Monday, November 28, 2011 4:54PM EST
HALIFAX - The Canadian military has not received its first fully operational Cyclone maritime helicopter for training purposes, months after Defence Minister Peter MacKay said it would get it in the summer.
In May, MacKay announced that Canadian Forces air crew could expect to have their first interim CH-148 Cyclone for training purposes by the end of the summer.
A spokesman said MacKay was unavailable for comment.
In response to a request for comment, a spokeswoman for the Defence Department said in an email the military hasn't yet accepted delivery of the helicopter from manufacturer Sikorksy because work on the chopper isn't complete.
"Critical work remains outstanding before the Defence Department can take official delivery and assume ownership of the interim helicopter in accordance with the contract," Tracy Poirier said.
Poirier did not elaborate on what work still needs to be done, but said the federal government will only accept the helicopter when it receives a Canadian military air worthiness certificate.
She said the helicopter that Sikorsky pilots flew to the 12 Wing Shearwater air base in Halifax earlier this year is still being used to train ground crew. She did not respond specifically to a question about when the military could expect formal delivery of the helicopter.
A spokesman for the federal Department of Public Works said in an email that Ottawa has assessed $8 million in penalties against Sikorsky for delays with the Cyclone procurement program -- the maximum that can be applied. But Sebastien Bois declined to say whether the fines have been paid.
A spokesman for Sikorsky said the choppers are viable and the company is working with the military to deliver them as quickly as possible, but he declined to comment further.
"We continue to work to provide the Canadian Forces with these extremely capable aircraft as expeditiously as possible," Paul Jackson said in an email.
The federal government announced the contract to acquire 28 maritime helicopters from Sikorsky seven years ago to replace the decades-old Sea Kings. The first helicopter was originally due in November 2008, but there have been numerous delays and cost overruns with the procurement.
Last year, the federal auditor general released a report that estimated the costs for the helicopters had grown from $5.1 billion to about $5.7 billion.