Canada’s new CH-147F Chinook Helicopter

Backgrounder / June 27, 2013

As part of the Government’s commitment to strengthening the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the Department of National Defence is acquiring 15 advanced, multi-mission, medium- to heavy-lift helicopters, or more specifically the Canadian version of the F-model Chinook (also known as CH-147F). The delivery of Canada’s first of these versatile workhorse aircraft was marked with a ceremony held at the Canada Reception Centre in Ottawa on June 27, 2013.

Supporting Operations

The Canada First Defence Strategy represents a commitment by the Government of Canada to provide the CAF with the right equipment, therefore enabling CAF personnel to perform their mission of defending Canada and Canadian interests today and well into the future. New Chinook helicopters are an important part of that commitment.

Domestic Operations

Domestic roles for the Chinook helicopters focus on the provision of logistical or mobility support to Canadian Army and Special Operations Forces, other Government departments, law enforcement agencies, and other civil authorities. The Chinook is also ideally suited for fast and effective response to humanitarian emergencies such as fires, floods, and earthquakes. The versatility, impressive capacity, and long range of this helicopter make the new Chinook ideal for operations in Canada’s vast territory and demanding environment.

Foreign Operations

The value of the Chinook helicopter was highlighted by the CAF’s operational experience in Afghanistan, with the six D-model versions employed there as part of Canada’s Air Wing in Kandahar. This workhorse helicopter saved lives, and contributed significantly to mission success by rapidly transporting troops and equipment to locations that would be more dangerous or impossible to reach by ground.

Today, Chinook helicopters are in high demand across the entire spectrum of contemporary military operations, from humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping, to high-tempo combat operations. Forces conducting these operations must train continuously and be prepared to deploy on short notice. Aircraft and aircrew must be available and prepared in advance to support the high levels of readiness and responsiveness required of the CAF. These Chinook helicopters are needed today to prepare for and sustain operations in the future.

When the CAF are asked to operate abroad, they can face chaotic and complex environments involving improvised explosive devices, mines, small arms fire, and other dangerous weapons. Helicopter forces are vital to supporting adaptable military operations in these environments and must be prepared to assist ground-borne forces and ensure their own continued operations under increased threats. The CH-147F has the right performance and equipment to successfully carry out this demanding mission.

Equipped for Modern Battlefield

These new Canadian F-model Chinooks are dramatically improved compared to the old C-models operated by the CAF in the 1970s and 1980s. They are equipped with a full range of leading-edge systems, allowing them to operate effectively in a modern theatre of operations that has also changed dramatically since the Cold War era.

  • With the extended-range fuel tanks, they have more than twice the range of other F-model and previous Chinook variants.

  • To defeat anti-aircraft missiles, the new Chinooks are equipped with a laser-based active missile counter-measure system, as well as a chaff and flare dispensing system.

  • A radar and laser warning system alert the crew if they are being targeted, and a full armour kit provides crew and passengers with ballistic protection from small arms fire.

  • The Chinook is equipped with three defensive machine guns: two forward door guns and one on the aft ramp.

  • A state-of-the-art Electro-Optical/Infra-Red sensor allows the helicopter to operate effectively in very low light or reduced visibility conditions.

In addition to robust self-defence equipment, additional tactical procedures are followed to further mitigate threats that may be encountered. For example, the Chinooks can be flown with armed escort aircraft, and can use deception techniques in a wide range of day or night operations, all of which make this Chinook an ideal helicopter in a broad spectrum of demanding theatres.

When comparing the lift capabilities of the Chinook with the one of the CH-146 Griffon helicopter: With a lifting capability of 20,000 pounds, the Chinook actually has the ability to carry (or sling) the entire weight of a Griffon. The Chinook will carry 33 fully equipped combat troops and its crew, or 11,363 kilograms of cargo. The Griffon on the other hand, is a light utility/reconnaissance platform that will normally carry fewer than 10 people including its crew. These two aircraft will complement each other in a balanced aviation team on future missions and operations; the Chinook brings a whole new rotary wing capability to the CAF.

Projected Costing

The total estimated cost for acquisition and in-service support for the Medium-to-Heavy Lift Helicopter Program is CAN$5 billion.  The breakdown is as follows:

  • The total project acquisition cost is estimated at CAN$2.3 billion, which includes the 15 helicopters, in-service support set-up, equipment procured directly from the U.S. government (Foreign Military Sales cases)*, new infrastructure in Petawawa, project management costs, and a complete maintenance and aircrew training program, including simulation devices and courseware. 

  • The 20-year in-service support program for the helicopters, which includes the training systems and equipment procured directly from the U.S. government (Foreign Military Sales cases)*, has an estimated value of CAN$2.7 billion.

  • The estimated costs associated with 20 years of personnel, operations and maintenance (excluding GST) are approximately CAN$1.7 billion.

Estimated Life-Cycle Costs

Acquisition costs  $2.3B
In-Service Support (20 years) $2.7B
TOTAL $5.0B
Personnel, Operating and Maintenance Costs (20 years)     $1.7B


* The Foreign Military Sales program is the U.S.method for selling U.S.defence equipment, services, and training that is not available for individual companies to purchase, even if they are American. Equipment that falls under this program are typically sensitive, such as specialized weapons, high performance engines and classified communications systems. In programs like the Medium- to Heavy-Lift Helicopter,Canada procures certain equipment through Foreign Military Sales, and then provides it to the company for assembly and integration into the aircraft.

Procurement

In June 2006, the Government of Canada announced its plan to acquire a new medium- to heavy-lift helicopter capability to meet the CAF rotary-wing transport requirements for the next 20 years. To ensure a fair, open, and transparent process, an Advance Contract Award Notice was published on the Government Electronic Tenders Service (MERX) to give notice to the supplier community of the intent to award a contract to the Boeing Company, which was assessed as being the only compliant supplier.

In August 2009, the Government of Canada announced a contract award, valued at US $1.2 billion, to the Boeing Company to build the helicopters and provide initial in-service support set-up for Canada’s Medium- to Heavy-Lift Helicopter Program. The total estimated cost for the Medium- to Heavy-Lift Helicopter Project is CAN $5 billion for both the acquisition and the following 20 years of in-service of support.

The total project acquisition cost is estimated at CAN $2.3 billion, which includes the 15 helicopters, in-service support setup, equipment procured directly from the U.S. government (Foreign Military Sales cases)*, new infrastructure in Petawawa, Ontario, project management costs, and a complete maintenance and aircrew training program, including simulation devices and courseware.

In March 2010, the Government of Canada announced that Montreal-based CAE would be the single operational training systems provider for the Chinook F-model helicopter fleet. CAE was awarded a contract valued at approximately CAN $250 million to establish and maintain a comprehensive CH-147F Chinook helicopter aircrew training solution.

In 2011, the Government awarded EllisDon Company a contract valued at CAN $134.8 million to construct first and second line maintenance bays, CAE and Boeing training schools, a back shop and warehouse, a Department of National Defence command suite, and a fenced-in parking lot.

On May 24, 2013, the Government of Canada announced the awarding of a CAN $5.7 million subcontract by Boeing to Weatherhaven, of Burnaby, British Columbia, to fit made-in-Canada portable repair and maintenance shelters for the CH-147F helicopters. These portable shelters can be trucked and/or airlifted to locations to meet the CAF’s various needs in the field, both domestically and internationally.

In addition, the 20 year in-service support program for the helicopters, the training systems, and equipment procured directly from the U.S. government (Foreign Military Sales cases)* has an estimated value of CAN $2.7 billion. The in-service support contract will compensate Boeing for every hour the aircraft is able to fly. This unique structure provides incentives which will ensure the helicopters are ready to respond when and where they are needed.

As part of the Medium- to Heavy-Lift Helicopter Program, Boeing has committed to providing industrial and regional benefits equal to US $1.25 billion, which will ensure that Canadian industry benefits from this procurement. Boeing is currently on track to meet its commitments.

Reactivation of 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron

The numerical designation of 450 was originally given to 450 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War, which flew under that number honourably from 1941 until 1945. In an unusual twist of history, the number 450 was re-designated to a Canadian Heavy Transport Squadron in 1968.

As confirmed on May 2, 2012, 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, under the command of 1 Wing Kingston, Ont., and based at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, Ontario, has been re-established to become home to the fleet of 15 F-Model Chinooks. 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron is expected to employ approximately 400 military personnel by 2016. Later this year, a ceremony will be held at 450 Squadron to re-instate the colours of this proud unit.

Various infrastructure projects are currently underway at CFB Petawawa to accommodate the new Chinook helicopters, such as the construction of new hangars that will incorporate training, maintenance, operational storage, and logistics. Construction also includes a new ramp, a refueling facility, and a fenced-in parking area. The remaining facilities will be completed in the coming months.


 

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