Sikorsky’s ship-based Cyclone faces new delays

 - September 30, 2010, 7:00 AM

Starting next month, Canada’s government will take delivery of six interim CH-148 Cyclone multi-mission, ship-based helicopters ahead of 2012 deliveries of the finished version. The interim version will have partially compliant mission system software and slightly lower performance specs than the finished version. The fly-by-wire CH-148 derives from the civil S-92 medium twin. Although a military aircraft, it is designed with civil certification in mind, according to program managers. CH-148 technology could thus be used in future civil Sikorsky aircraft.

The preliminary version of the software will allow “the majority” of the sensors and weapons to be operated–but not in a fully integrated fashion. Despite partial mission capabilities, the interim helicopter will be able to “achieve targeted progress,” Canada’s National Defense said in late July. The delay in software development is one more mishap in the program.

As previously agreed, interim helicopters will also lack an automated datalink, 21 minutes of flight endurance and full single-engine capability at high temperature. By the time the fully compliant aircraft are delivered–scheduled for 2012–the interim aircraft will have provided training and operational testing.

In return for Canada’s agreement to accept delivery of incomplete software, Sikorsky withdrew an existing arbitration claim. Under the amended contract, the firm committed to more investment in the country. Canada could also receive royalties on “future maritime helicopter sales.” Another concession was to extend the in-service support to March 2028.

Once delivery of the fully compliant helicopters begins, the interim helicopters will be modified to be fully compliant and returned by December 2013. In total, Canadian Forces’ order–placed in 2004–is worth C$5 billion ($4.6 billion) for 28 helicopters and associated services.