New fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft for the RCAF

News Article / December 8, 2016

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Government of Canada

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s fixed-wing search and rescue (FWSAR) fleets of CC-115 Buffalo and legacy CC-130H Hercules aircraft will be replaced by the C295W aircraft, manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space.

The announcement was made December 8, 2016, at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario.

Following a rigorous, open and transparent competition, the Government of Canada awarded a contract to Airbus Defence and Space to replace the current FWSAR aircraft. The company has partnered with Newfoundland-based PAL Aerospace for maintenance and support services. The contract will provide a complete, modern and technologically advanced search and rescue solution, including maintenance and support services up to 2043.

“Members of the Royal Canadian Air Force search and rescue community are among the best trained in the world and respond to incidents in every type of environment, whether in the Arctic, over the Rockies or in the middle of the ocean,” said Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan. “Canadians in distress can count on them to give their very best to save lives. With this technology, we are giving our women and men in uniform the tools they need to continue to deliver effective and essential search and rescue operations.”

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 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.

The RCAF’s CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130H Hercules have served Canada well over the last 20 to 40 years. These aircraft perform more than 350 missions annually and are responsible for saving thousands of Canadian lives every year. During the transition the existing fleets will continue to be maintained and operated to ensure search and rescue responsibilities.

The Canadian Armed Forces is responsible for providing aeronautical search and rescue operations. In collaboration with federal, provincial/territorial and municipal governments, as well as local search and rescue organizations, the Canadian Armed Forces respond to Canadians in distress across the country and at sea.

About the contract

The initial contract for a period of 11 years is valued at $2.4 billion (plus applicable taxes) and includes six years of acquisition and set up, including the construction of a new training centre in Comox, British Columbia, as well as the first five  years of maintenance and support services.

The contract is performance-based, which means the contractor will only be paid when equipment and services are delivered and accepted by Canada. 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 (plus applicable taxes).

A fairness monitor was engaged to oversee and report on the openness and transparency of the procurement process. The fairness monitor’s report identified no fairness‑related issues.


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