Only four Sea Kings headed to retirement next year, says National Defence
Canadian soldiers board a Sea King helicopter as they participate in advanced amphibious training from the Shearwater Jetty in Halifax on Tuesday, July 30, 2013. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, December 15, 2015 3:05PM EST
OTTAWA - A spokesman for National Defence says the air force is only expecting to retire four of its venerable CH-124 Sea King helicopters in 2016 in addition to the four it has already put out pasture.
Daniel Le Bouthillier says the choppers, which have seen five decades of service, have been written off, but not yet sent to the scrap yard.
There are approximately 26 Sea Kings still operating and earlier this week a senior government official, speaking on background, said training and delivery of the new CH-148 Cyclone helicopters will have to be sped up in order to ensure there is no gap between the fleets.
The former Conservative government, which struggled to deliver replacement maritime helicopters, went to great lengths last spring -- before the election call -- to demonstrate the Sea Kings could begin retiring in 2015 as promised.
It approved a $500,000 program to ensure that the transition between the aircraft wasn't a total culture shock for pilots and ground crew.
There have been concerns the Sea Kings may be phased out faster than the Cyclones are equipped to replace them.