Military’s Cyclone chopper lifetime cost to exceed $14B, according to government document

Lifetime cost of military's Cyclone choppers set to soar past $14B, government document reveals

“Struggles with Canada’s military aircraft program”
Canada’s air force is facing significant problems with the CH-148 Cyclone program. According to a leaked document obtained by CBC News, the lifetime cost for buying, owning, and running these aircraft is expected to be more than $14.87 billion. The majority of this expense, about $10 billion, is for sustaining the helicopters. Despite this high cost, the delivery of the last two out of the 28 helicopters is still pending, raising significant concerns.

The High Cost of Sustaining and Operating the Aircraft
The costs predominantly comprise acquiring the aircraft, estimated at $3.7 billion, and sustaining and operating the helicopters, pegged at $11.17 billion until the late 2030s. The federal government currently holds a support contract with the manufacturer valued at $5.8 billion, part of the overall $10 billion for sustainment, although it is unclear why there is a difference between the two figures. The Department of National Defence (DND) has attributed recent cost hikes to inflation and claims it is not overpaying for spare parts. The air force is still awaiting delivery of the last two helicopters, with only the second-to-last one coming at the end of next month and the final not until 2025.

Issues with the Manufacturer
The leaked document also highlighted concerns regarding the manufacturer not being able to complete the aircraft. The report accented the importance of these maritime helicopters to naval operations, making it vital for the air force to resolve these issues. Furthermore, the government’s purchase of a radar warning system was never delivered due to U.S. government technology transfer restrictions, raising questions about the involvement of Lockheed Martin in the process.

Thoughts of Experts
Experts have expressed surprise about the discrepancies, additional costs, and the delays in the program. While retired colonel Larry McWha found the briefing comprehensive, he also stated the costs still took him by surprise. Dave Perry, president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, questioned if the government holds any responsibility for the issues with the manufacturer, suggesting that there could have been improvements in oversight and management of the project.

Compelling Conclusion
The Canadian air force’s ongoing struggles with the CH-148 Cyclone program prompts questions about accountability, oversight, and future implications for the safety and security of the country. As the government and the manufacturer work to resolve these issues, it is essential for the transformation and completion of the program to meet the needs of the Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as Canada’s national defense as a whole.



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