CASR | In Detail | MHP Series Index | CH-124
Sea King | CH-148 Cyclone
CASR – Canadian American Strategic Review – In Detail
Defence Procurement – Maritime Helicopter Project – Updated to July 2004
Politics, Procurement Practices, and Procrastination:
the Quarter-Century Sea King Helicopter Replacement Saga
CASR Researcher, Stephen Priestley reviews DND's quarter-century long (and running) struggle to replace Canada's CH-124 Sea King
Update 2013: Note that this In Detail series was first published in
A decade later, the CH-124 Sea King maritime helicopter is still in service. In 2004, the CH-148
Cyclone was chosen as a replacement. However, it is anyone's guess as to when operational Cyclones will be available to replace the CF's aging Sea Kings.
have we arrived at this sorry state of affairs? Peter MacKay, the former MND, has described the Maritime Helicopter Project (MHP) as the "worst procurement" effort in Canadian history
– and that is up against some pretty stiff competition.
In hopes of detecting root causes for maladies of this Maritime Helicopter Project procurement, this series traces the origins of the project and the decisions made by both DND
and the various governing parties beginning a staggering 36 years ago.
Blame for the farce that the Maritime Helicopter Project has become now shift from the Government of Canada to the manufacturer to DND but the dates say it all. It is 36 years
since DND launched the Sea King Replacement project, 28 years since the SKR was rebranded as the New Shipboard Aircraft project, 20 years since NSA was cancelled, and 10 years since
the 'call for tenders' on the MHP was made. Sikorsky claimed that 'fully compliant' CH-148 Cyclones would arrive in 2013. Well, we'll see.
Part 1 — the MHP in the Current Political Landscape
How Canada arrived at its current contract confrontation with Sikorsky.
Part 2 — In the Beginning: the Search for a Sea King Replacement
A decade into MHP, why was the CH-124 Sea King still in Canadian service?
Part 3 — "Slide!" ... Air Command Listens to its 'Power Animal'
Air Staff 'preferences', Sea King Replacement is given a rather low priority.
Part 4 — ASW Rebranded: the New Shipboard Aircraft Project
Under the rebranded New Shipboard Aircraft Project, 'bigger is better'.
Sidebar: Obsessing Over Size? or Just Missing the Point?
Global trends moved towards smaller, more agile ASW helicopter types.
Part 5 — Open for Business: the Contenders for the 'NSA'
NSA contenders: Sikorsky S-70 and Aérospatiale SA332 Super Puma.
Part 6 — Open for Business: the Contenders for the 'NSA' (Cont)
NSA contender: EH101. EHI set up to market Italo-British multi-use helicopter.
Part 7 — Narrowing the Field and Racing for the Finishing Line
Sikorsky withdraws ... and buys a piece of Westland. EH-101 had to succeed.
Part 8 — "...'The Effects of a Permanent Income On Thought'..."
Aérospatiale rebrands while Tories spend $67M just to keep the MHP ticking.
Part 9 — Widening the 'New Shipboard Aircraft' Requirement
SAR helicopters – Canada's old CH-113 Labradors also needed replacements.
Part 10 – NSA Contracts ... 'Buy Now! Do Not Pay Until 1995!'
Tories order 50 EH-101s at $5.8B, Liberals decry the NSA winner a 'Cadillac'.
Part 11 – Out With the Old, Out With the New: the 1993 Federal Election
NSA trip-wire left behind by Tories, Liberal Goverment walks right into it.
Part 12 – Going 'Green': An Unexamined Option for the NSA
Maritime helicopter airframes needed un-bundling from their complex avionics.
Part 13 – Running Out of Time, Options, and Alternatives
Cancelling the EH-101 MH left Chrétien Liberals with no room to manoeuvre.
Sidebar: Liberals Try Thinking Small With a Sea-Going Griffon
Built in Montreal, Canadian-made engines, and comparatively cheap but ...
Part 14 – the 1994 Defence White Paper and Cormorant SAR Helicopters
The Canadian government continues to tweak the terms of the MHP.
Part 15 – "Once more unto the breach" — Candidates for the new MHP
Sikorsky's H-92, NHI's composite NH-90, and EHI's navalized EH-101.
Part 16 – "... we had Sea Kings in the sun", MHP becomes top priority for DND
Paul Martin freezes DND project spending, except for the Sea King replacement.
Part 17 – "... more talk of these sad things", choosing the better candidate
Sikorsky H-92 Superhawk vs navalized EHI EH-101 – the pros and the cons.
Part 18 – The solution at the time ... drop ASW equipment on new helicopters
Without limits & constraints on DND Project Offices, we'll keep getting MHPs!