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CH-148 Cyclone
CH-148 Cyclone at Paris Air Show
Role Maritime helicopter
Manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft
First flight 15 November 2008
Status Under development
Primary user Canadian Forces
Unit cost
C$64 million (2004 estimate)[citation needed]
Developed from Sikorsky S-92

The Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone is a twin-engine, multi-role shipboard helicopter manufactured by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation for the Canadian Forces. A military variant of the Sikorsky S-92, the CH-148 is designed for shipboard operations and is intended to replace the venerable CH-124 Sea King, which has been in operation since 1963. The helicopter will be operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and will conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW), surveillance, and search and rescue missions from Royal Canadian Navy warships. It will also provide tactical transport for operations supporting national and international security efforts.[1] The search for a Sea King replacement originally began in the 1980s. Delivery of the 28 CH-148s ordered was originally planned for 2009, but has been repeatedly delayed.


Canada began to seek a replacement for the Sea King maritime helicopter in 1986 when it issued a solicitation for the New Shipborne Aircraft (NSA) Project. A variant of the AgustaWestland EH-101 was selected. A contract was signed by the nation's governing party at the time, the Progressive Conservatives. After a change of government to the Liberal party, the EH-101 contract was cancelled. The cancellation resulted in a lengthy delay to procure a replacement aircraft. The project took on increased importance in the early 2000s and another procurement competition was initiated.[2]

On 23 November 2004, Canada's Department of National Defence announced the award of a C$1.8 billion contract to Sikorsky to produce 28 helicopters, with deliveries scheduled to start in January 2009.[3]

In addition to Sikorsky, General Dynamics Canada and L-3 MAS, Sikorsky's subcontractors, are responsible for in service maintenance. This includes the Maritime Helicopter Training Centre, with two Operational Mission Simulators. Other elements of in-service support include the Integrated Vehicle Health Monitoring System, spares and software support.[4]

The first flight of the first production CH-148, serial number 801 (FAA registration N4901C), took place in Florida on 15 November 2008.[5][6]

Delays and upgrades

In May 2010, Sikorsky announced an engine upgrade for the CH-148 Cyclone by the end of 2012. General Electric is developing a new engine version based on the CT7-8A1. The CT7-8A1 makes the CH-148 Cyclone heavier and less efficient than expected. General Electric is currently developing the CT7-8A7 to be certified by June 2012 and eventually integrated into the Cyclone as soon as possible. General Electric will develop the upgraded engine at its own expense. The new CT7-8A7 engine version will produce 10% additional horsepower.[7] The CT7-8A7 will include modifications to the fuel manifold and nozzles. The interim CH-148s will be provided with CT7-8A1 engines.[8]

Additional complications in the program, and restrictions from US government International Traffic in Arms Regulations have delayed initial aircraft deliveries until 2010.[9]

Further delays resulted in expected delivery pushed to 2015.[10] In 2013 Canada rejected the delivery of "interim" helicopters offered by Sikorsky that lacked critical mission systems.[11] In September 2013, the Canadian government announced that they were reevaluating the CH-148 purchase, and would examine cancelling the contract and ordering different helicopters if that were the better option.[12] As of September 2013, Sikorsky has accrued over $88 million in late damages, and needed to be given a 43-month delivery date reprieve, since 2008.[13]


A close-up of the rotor assembly on an S-92

The CH-148 has a metal and composite airframe. The four-bladed articulated composite main rotor blade is wider and has a longer radius than the S-70 Blackhawk. The tapered blade tip sweeps back and angles downward to reduce noise and increase lift. Tethered hover flight has recorded 138 kN (31,000 lbf) of lift generated, both in and out of ground effect. Unlike the Sea King, but in common with almost all current production naval helicopters, the Cyclone is not amphibious and cannot float on water.

A number of safety features such as flaw tolerance, bird strike capability and engine burst containment have been incorporated into the design. An active vibration system ensures comfortable flight and acoustic levels are well below certification requirements. The Cyclone will feature a modified main gearbox, which has been redesigned since a March 2009 accident.[14]

The CH-148 is equipped with devices to search and locate submarines during ASW, and is equipped with countermeasures to protect itself against missile strikes. The Integrated Mission System is being developed by General Dynamics Canada,[15] as is the Sonobuoy Acoustic Processing System.[16] The radar is a Telephonics APS-143B,[17] the EO System a Flir Systems SAFIRE III,[18] the sonar an L-3 HELRAS,[19] and the ESM a Lockheed Martin AN/ALQ-210.[20] CMC Electronics provides the flight management system, named CMA-2082MH Aircraft Management System.[21]

Operational history

The Canadian Forces were to take delivery of CH-148s beginning in November 2008. In April 2009 the Government of Canada waived late fees and allowed Sikorsky two additional years to deliver compliant Cyclones. In February 2010, the first CH-148 arrived at CFB Halifax. Shearwater Heliport is the headquarters of 12 Wing, which currently operate the CH-124 Sea King and are to operate the CH-148. Due to delays and export restrictions, the first 19 of the 28 CH-148 Cyclones were to be delivered in an interim standard which does not meet the original contract requirements. This allows operational testing and training to begin before the end of the year.[22][23]

In March 2010, the first CH-148 was being installed on board HMCS Montréal for an intensive open seas trials including landing and takeoff.[24][25]

In June 2010, Sikorsky announced the Canadian Forces would receive six interim CH-148 Cyclones in November 2010.[26] In July 2010 the Canada and Sikorsky reached an agreement on delay payments and deliveries. Delivery of the remaining CH-148s with full capabilities were to begin in June 2012.[27] All interim-standard helicopters are to be retrofitted by December 2013.[28]

On 22 February 2011, the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada announced the proposed arrival of 9 Cyclones on Canada's west coast in the spring of 2014.[29] By March 2011 the six interim CH-148s had not been delivered. On 3 March 2011, the federal government announced that it would impose a fine of up to C$8 million on Sikorsky for failure to meet contractual obligations.[30]

In January 2012 it was reported Sikorsky Aircraft would deliver five training CH-148 Cyclones in 2012. Sikorsky was to deliver a "fully mission capable" CH-148 by June 2012 or possibly face a further $80 million in contract penalties.[31]

On July 10, 2012 when discussing Sikorsky missing another delivery deadline in June 2012 Defence Minister Peter MacKay called the Cyclone purchase "the worst procurement in the history of Canada".[32]

In December 2012, Louis Chenevert, chairman of Sikorsky's parent corporation United Technologies Corporation, stated that the 5 CH-148s scheduled for delivery in 2012 would instead be delivered in 2013, along with only 3 additional helicopters. The remaining deliveries are to follow.[33][34] In October 2013, the project appears to be on the verge of cancellation, with the Canadian government ordering a possible rethink of the military's helicopter requirements.[35] If it is cancelled, $1 billion has already been spent, without a single fully compliant CH-148 delivered by Sikorsky.[35]

Future and potential operators

In 2009, Germany showed an interest in the CH-148 Cyclone to replace the German Navy's ageing fleet of Lynx and Sea King maritime helicopters, in competition with the NHIndustries NH90.[36][37][38]


CH-148 Cyclone
Maritime helicopter




Data from Canadian Forces MHP page[40]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4 (2 pilots, 1 tactical coordinator TACCO, 1 sensor operator AES OP)
  • Capacity: 6 in mission config, up to 22 in utility config.
  • Length: 68 ft 6 in [S-92 data] (20.9 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 58 ft 1 in [S-92 data] (17.7 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 5 in [S-92 data] (4.7 m)
  • Disc area: 2,650 ft² [S-92 data] (246 m²)
  • Empty weight: 15,600 lb [S-92 data] (7,070 kg[41])
  • Max. takeoff weight: 28,650 lb (12,993 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × General Electric CT7-8A7 turboshaft, 3,000 shp (2,238 kW) each
  • Fuselage length: 56 ft 2 in (17.1 m)
  • Fuselage width: 17 ft 3 in (5.26 m)


  • Maximum speed: 165 knots (190 mph, 306 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 137 knots (158 mph, 254 km/h)
  • Service ceiling: 15,000 ft (4,572 m)


  • 2 x MK-46 torpedoes on BRU-14 mounted in folding weapons pylons
  • Door-arm mounted general-purpose machine gun
  • See also


    1. "CH-148 Cyclone". Canada's Air Force, National Defence. Accessed: 30 November 2008.
    2. Pigott, Peter. "Playing the Waitiing Game". Helicopters magazine, 2012. Retrieved: 15 May 2013.
    3. "Background Information CH-148 Cyclone Helicopter". Department of National Defence. Retrieved 23 January 2010. 
    5. "First flight for Canada's Cyclone maritime helicopter". 18 November 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2008. 
    6. "Sikorsky flies first CH-148 Cyclone".
    7. "De nouvelles configurations des moteurs pour les hélicoptères maritimes canadiens (French)". TV5. 21 May 2010. 
    8. Tutton, Michael for The Canadian Press (21 May 2010). "Another engine change for Navy choppers". yahoo. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
    9. "Security Restrictions May Hamper Canadian Purchases". 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
    10. National Post, "Replace the Sea Kings. Now", Michael Byers and Stewart Webb, 23 July 2013
    11. Defense News, "Canada Refuses To Accept Sikorsky Helos", 20 July 2013, David Pugliese
    12. CTV News, "Military team sent to evaluate helicopters 'other' than troubled Cyclones", 5 September 2013
    13. Globe and Mail, "Helicopter purchase’s fate in doubt as Ottawa examines other models", Steve Chase, 5 September 2013
    14. Warwick, Graham. "Canada Wants Tougher Helicopter Gearbox Rules". Aviation Week, 14 February 2011.
    15. General Dynamics Canada - CH148 Cyclone - Maritime Helicopter Project - Overview,
    16. General Dynamics Canada - Sonobuoy Acoustic Processing Systems - Overview,
    17. Telephonics: Corporate Info,
    18. FLIR - News Release,
    19. L3 Communications - Ocean Systems, Products - Airborn Systems/Seaborn Systems,
    20. Lockheed Martin Awarded $59.4 Million to Provide Electronic Support Measure Systems to Canadian Forces. Lockheed Martin.
    21. CMC Electronics Awarded Contract by Sikorsky Aircraft to Supply Next-Generation Aircraft Management System for Canadian H-92 Maritime Helicopter Project.
    22. "Sikorsky's Cyclone Touches Down in Canada". Defense Industry Daily. 8 March 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2010. 
    23. "PHOTOS OF THE CYCLONE HELICOPTER AT SHEARWATER: MORE TESTS EXPECTED NEXT MONTH". Defence Watch. 12 March 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2010. 
    24. "Cyclone testing comes to Halifax". The Chronicle Herald. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2010. [dead link]
    25. "Sikorsky’s CH-148 Cyclone naval helicopter prototype arrives in Canada for trials". Defense Industry Daily. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2011. 
    26. "Six choppers to be delivered to navy by summer 2012". thechronicleherald. June 8, 2010. 
    27. Trimble, Stephen. "Sikorsky accepts concessions to Canada after new CH-148 delays". Flight International, 28 July 2010.
    28. Maritime Helicopter Project (MHP) Schedule Materiel Group, Department of National Defence, 16 February 2011.
    29. New helicopter facility at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt
    30. Daniel Leblan. "Ottawa Seeks Cash for Copter Delays". Globe and Mail, 3 March 2011.
    31. "Only five ‘training’ choppers expected this year". thechronicleherald. January 27, 2012. 
    32. "Mackay blames grits for worst procurement in history in chopper deal". thechronicleherald. July 11, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
    33. "Delivery of Sea King replacement helicopters delayed once again". theottawacitizen. December 18, 2012. 
    34. Pugliese, David. "Sea King replacement delayed". The Vancouver Sun, 19 December 2012.
    35. 35.0 35.1 Cudmore, James (15 October 2013). "Sea King replacements could be smaller, cheaper helicopters: Government could be set to follow through on its threat to scrap the $5-billion helicopter contract". Toronto. Archived from the original on 2013-10-16. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
    36. German Navy Replacing Sea Lynx and Sea King helicopter.
    37. MH90 vs. CH148: Replacing Sea Lynx and Sea King helicopter.
    38. German Navy Replacing their ageing helicopter.
    40. "The Maritime Helicopter Project - PMO MHP". Canadian Forces. 21 July 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 

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