Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade

Project summary

This project will extend the estimated life expectancy of the CH-149 Cormorant to at least 2042, address obsolescence issues, ensure compliance with emerging regulations, and address a search and rescue capability deficiency at the Trenton Main Operating Base. These objectives will be achieved by updates and upgrades to the existing CH-149 Cormorant fleet, augmentation of the fleet, and improvements to maintenance regimes and training.

Project phases

Currently in Phase 3: Definition

1. Identification

1. Identification

n/a

2. Options analysis

2. Options analysis

n/a

3. Definition

3. Definition

  • Project approval: February 7, 2019
4. Implementation

4. Implementation

  • Project approval: Fall 2020
  • Contract award: Fall 2020
  • First delivery: 2022
  • Initial operational capability: 2024
  • Final delivery: 2027
  • Full operational capability: 2028
5. Close-out

5. Close-out

  • 2028

Learn more about the Defence procurement process

Additional information

Project updates

Project updates

September 25, 2018
The project briefing to the independent review panel was completed.

July 26, 2018
Project Option 3, upgrade of the CH-149 and augmentation with the use of VH-71 parts where possible, was approved.

May 2018
Canada released a Letter of Notification indicating the Government's intention to sole source the project with Leonardo.

January 2018
The AW-101 is endorsed as the only solution and the procurement strategy is approved.

September 2013
The Defence Capabilities Board approved the start of the Options Analysis phase.

July 2012
The CMLU project was initiated by the Commander of the RCAF.

Benefiting Canadian industry

Benefiting Canadian industry

Industry engagement so far includes

  • Leonardo provided an unsolicited proposal to upgrade Cormorants and augment fleet with conversion of 7 VH-71 helicopters to the SAR role in April 2013.
  • A market survey was conducted through informal meetings and discussions held with over 25 companies interested in supporting the CMLU Project between 2016 and 2018. Discussions were held from staff to ADM levels in multiple government departments.
  • Leonardo provided an updated unsolicited proposal to upgrade Cormorants and convert VH-71s in December 2016.
  • Canada released a Letter of Notification indicating the Government's intent to sole source the CMLU Project to Leonardo in May 2018.
  • Canada provided written responses to companies who have had concerns or questions with the procurement strategy in June 2018.
  • Leonardo, with ISED present, held an industry day during the Farnborough airshow in July 2018.

The Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy, including Value Proposition, applies to this acquisition. The industrial analysis conducted to date reveals that this project is related to a number of areas of strategic interest to Canada, including rotary wing maintenance, repair and overhaul, systems upgrade, and training and simulation. The potential to leverage economic benefits will be a consideration in finalizing the procurement strategy.

Technical Requirements

Technical Requirements

The current in-service support contract has contracting authority to 2025. Competition for the future sustainment of augmented fleet will be determined as part of the ongoing Sustainment Business Case Analysis.

Project costs

Project costs

The acquisition cost for this project—including project management costs, infrastructure, contracts and contingency—is between $1 and $5 billion.

The project is proceeding under a procure to budget approach and intends to use assigned cost contingency to maximize the capability delivered if and when risks are retired.

Issues/Risks

Issues/Risks

The overall project schedule has aggressive timelines to mitigate the impact of the operational risk and obsolescence issues.

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