Commanding officer Travis Chapman is thrilled to have the first of the Cyclone CH-148’s finally in place with 433 Squadron. (photo Tim Collins)

New navy helicopter arrives at Sidney base

Cyclone helicopter was long-awaited, but generations ahead

It’s been a long road, with more than a few bumps along the way, but the first of the Royal Canadian Navy’s state-of-the-art CH-148 Cyclone helicopters has finally arrived at 443 Squadron in Patricia Bay.

The Cyclone is the first of what will eventually be nine of the aircraft at the base, with a second arriving by September and a third expected before year’s end. The remaining six helicopters will arrive after that and the full complement is expected to be in place by 2021.

The new aircraft will be replacing the CH-124 Sea King as Canada’s main ship-borne maritime helicopter, providing air support to the Royal Canadian Navy. This new fleet of aircraft is at the forefront of modern technology and one of the most capable maritime helicopters in the world.

“We’re very excited to have this aircraft here and now the work begins in training the flight and ground crews and getting them acquainted with the Cyclone,” said Lt. Col. Travis Chapman, the commanding officer of 443 Squadron.

RELATED: New helicopter hangar nearly done

“This aircraft has more advanced avionics suite, better radar systems and a greater capability to integrate with other forces.”

The Cyclone will serve a number of key roles, including sub-surface surveillance and control and utility and search and rescue missions.

It can conduct its operations day and night and in almost any weather conditions while maintaining a longer range and approximately 10 per cent faster air speed than the Sea King.

RELATED: Helicopter hangar began in 2011

“The CH-148 is far more advanced than the Sea King and, from a warfare perspective, it is generationally leaps ahead of its predecessor.

From utility to weight capacity and its ability to fulfill our missions–this aircraft is far superior,” said Chapman.

“It’s even still got that ‘new car smell’ which is sort of neat,” he added with a chuckle.

While the Cyclones will be operating out of a hanger at 433 Squadron for the time being, it’s expected that the first of the new helicopters will be deployed aboard ship in January of 2019. The first deployment will be to the ­HMCS Regina, although no details are currently available on the specifics of that ship’s mission at that time.

The remaining Sea King helicopters, the now geriatric workhorses of the Cold War that were originally deployed in 1963, will continue in use until January when some will go to museums and others placed for sale or simply scrapped.

For Sergeant Keegan Bulger, one of the technicians responsible for helicopter maintenance and repair, that transition may be bittersweet.

“The Sea King has always been there for us, and the maintenance program was well ingrained,” said Bulger.

“We’re learning that now for the Cyclone. We have people who are very good at the individual systems, but we’re now learning a more integrated approach to the maintenance program.”

Bulger explained that the new Cyclones are equipped with ‘millions’ of sensors that allow crews to pinpoint any problems and determine what equipment needs to be replaced or repaired.

“There’s still some need to be interpretive, but this takes a lot of the guesswork out of the situation.”

Chapman said that the Cyclone will be flown to Abbotsford on the weekend (Aug. 11-12) where it will be put on static display along with a couple of Sea Kings.

A Sea King will also do a flight demonstration as a sort of last hurrah for the long serving aircraft.

The original contract for the purchase of 28 Cyclone helicopters was signed in 2003, and the first of the aircraft were to arrive at 12 Wing Shearwater (Halifax) in 2008.

The multibillion-dollar contract hit a number of setbacks, including one last year when it was determined that sonar system affixed to the underside of the aircraft risked damage when deployed during on-ship use.

That concern, as well as a litany of others have all been addressed at this time, according to Chapman.

“This is a fantastic aircraft and we’re all very excited to get to work with it now.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

HS2016-0332-048 A CH-148 Cyclone helicopter moves into position over the flight deck of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Montreal for deck evolutions on April 20, 2016 off the coast of Nova Scotia. (photo DND)

The control systems of the CH-148 are generations ahead of its predecessor. (photo Tim Collins)

The geriatric Sea Kings will continue in use until January, but will be sold, scrapped or relegated to museums at that time. (photo Tim Collins)

The CH-148 Cyclone now in place at 433 Squadron still has that ‘new car smell’. (Tim Collins/News Staff)

Just Posted

Faulty janitorial equipment likely caused Saanich school fire

Saturday morning fire damaged roof of Strawberry Vale Elementary

Greater Victoria records highest unemployment in history with 11 per cent

Past peak was 7.8 per cent more than a decade ago, according to South Island Prosperity Partnership

Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre to host a trio of acts

Aaron Pritchett, Alex Cuba and Valdy will each play four shows

Garth Homer Society in Saanich turns lemons into lemonade with online programs

Victoria disability organization sets up online programs and learning tools in wake of COVID-19

Human behaviour likely to deter birds from Esquimalt Lagoon, survey suggests

More Great Blue Herons spotted, fewer mallard ducks seen

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Most Read