Airbus announced on September 25 that the first of 16 CC-295 Kingfisher fixed-wing search and rescue (SAR) aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) had arrived in Canada.
The aircraft, serial 295501 (c/n 183), arrived at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Comox in British Colombia on September 17. The RCAF will operate the platform under 19 Wing’s 418 Search and Rescue Operational Training Squadron in a dedicated SAR role. The CC-295 Kingfisher is the Canadian military designation for Airbus’ C295W – an enhanced version of the C295 tactical transport with winglets and uprated engines.
Dirk Hoke, the CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said: “Thanks to the excellent collaboration with Canadian officials, we have overcome the challenges caused by COVID-19 and we were able to deliver the aircraft. Despite the current pandemic, we are confident of achieving the [programme] target of six deliveries by the end of this year.”
Canada announced on December 8, 2016, that it had selected Airbus’ C295W in its Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) programme. The Kingfisher has been sought to replace the RCAF’s ageing de Havilland Canada CC-115 Buffalo and Lockheed CC-130H Hercules fleets, which entered service in a SAR role in 1968 and 1974, respectively.
Lt Gen Al Meinzinger, commander of the RCAF, said: “The selfless dedication of our aviators and the [SAR] services they provide to Canadians brings great credit to the [RCAF] and the Canadian Armed Forces. The transition to the new fixed-wing [SAR] fleet is a tremendous opportunity for us and one that we take on with determination and pride.”
The Canadian government awarded Airbus a C$2.4bn (US$1.8bn) performance-based contract for 16 new-build CC-295s on December 1, 2016. The deal also includes in-service support, training, maintenance and engineering services and the construction of a new simulator-equipped training centre in Comox.
The platform features a multi-mode radar, enabling it to detect, localise, classify and track targets over water and land in all weather, day or night conditions. This system can detect ocean-going fishing vessels or merchant ships up to 200nm away and can track smaller inflatable boats at distances of up to 35nm. It is able to track more than 100 surface targets while scanning and has the capability to distinguish and recognise a variety of ground contacts.
In total, Airbus has delivered three examples to the RCAF, but this is the first to arrive on Canadian soil. The second is expected to arrive in the coming weeks and four more are planned to follow by the end of the year. Deliveries are due to be completed by 2022.