Pilot Alex Chatwin is seated in the cockpit of the new CH-148 Cyclone. (photo Tim Collins)

First long-awaited Cyclone lands near Victoria airport

Military helicopter first of nine to come to Saanich Peninsula base

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.”

443 squadron

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

 

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

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

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)

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)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Saanich in driver’s seat for residential road speed reduction pilot project

District recruits 11 CRD municipalities to join pilot project to look at 40 km/h residential limit

Victoria baseball club opens Royal Athletic Park for public picnics

HarbourCats go ahead with annual sock toss for charity despite no games

New space secured for Sooke homeless

The shelter will be ready for residents on July 20

Victoria archery club says goodbye to outdoor range in View Royal

Province-owned View Royal property will house handyDART facility

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

UPDATE: Vancouver Island skydiving community mourns loss of one of its own

James Smith, 34, of Victoria, dies in Nanoose Bay incident

Elizabeth May endorses Furstenau in BC Greens race

Former federal party leader backs Cowichan Valley MLA

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Most Read