Investments in modernizing and increasing the CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue fleet

News Article / August 22, 2019

National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

On August 22, 2019, Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan announced investments in the Royal Canadian Air Force’s search and rescue (SAR) fleet of CH-149 Cormorant helicopters.

The fleet will receive at least two additional helicopters and be upgraded to extend its life to at least 2042. The project office will conduct this work with Leonardo S.p.A. in partnership with IMP Aerospace, and CAE.

“Every year, the Royal Canadian Air Force flies about 1,000 missions in support of search and rescue, a core mission of the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, commander of the RCAF. “These upgrades to the CH-149 Cormorant, and an increase in fleet size ensures the RCAF will continue to deliver search and rescue services in the challenging Canadian environment.”

The CH-149 Cormorant provides a helicopter capability that allows search and rescue crews to conduct operations in areas not accessible by other helicopter fleets. Upgrading and enhancing this critical capability will ensure that it continues to be the reliable aircraft needed to conduct successful search and rescue operations in Canada’s challenging environment.

“Canadians rely on the women and men of the Royal Canadian Air Force to conduct successful search and rescue operations in challenging circumstances,” said Minister Sajjan. “These enhancements to the CH-149 Cormorant fleet will ensure that search and rescue crews have the right equipment to continue providing these life-saving services.”

Quick Facts

  • As part of the National Search and Rescue Program, the Department of National Defence has the mandate to provide services in response to aeronautical incidents, provide support to maritime incidents, and co-ordinate the aeronautical and maritime SAR system.
  • The RCAF has a responsibility to maintain a SAR response capable of reaching those in distress anywhere in Canada on a 24/7 basis.
  • The Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade project is valued at up to $1.39 billion.
  • Leonardo S.p.A. is the CH-149 Cormorant’s original equipment manufacturer, and IMP Aerospace is the in-service support contractor.
  • With this project, the CH-149s will be upgraded to the AW101-612 design which is the helicopter model recently procured by Norway for their search and rescue missions. Using an already established configuration accelerates the project considerably. Training solutions and related infrastructure will also be acquired.
  • In 2005, CH-149s from the 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, main operating base were redistributed to 9 Wing Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia, and 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia. With the addition of at least two CH-149s to the fleet, Cormorants will return to Trenton and replace CH-146 Griffons in the SAR role.


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Social Work Officers deliver professional social work services in a military setting to support the morale, efficiency and mental health of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and their families. Social Work Officers offer clinical social work services similar to community mental health and social services agencies.

As well as the full range of challenges common to Canadian society, CAF members and their families cope with additional stresses associated with frequent moves and separations. These stresses can give rise to social and family circumstances that involve complex social work interventions.

The primary responsibilities of a Social Work Officer are to:

         - Provide clinical intervention services
         - Assist in the resolution of compassionate situations
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         - Deliver preventive and rehabilitative programs in the areas of:
                   - Pre- and post-deployment stress
                   - Suicide prevention
                   - Family violence

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