Canada’s on-again, off-again Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) programme has finally reached a conclusion with the announcement that the Government of Canada has selected the Airbus C295W aircraft. The Airbus platform was ultimately preferred to its main competitor, the Leonardo C27J Spartan.
As part of the FWSAR programme, which was initially launched back in 2002, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) will receive 16 C295Ws modified for Search and Rescue (SAR). They will replace the country’s ageing fleet of de Havilland Canada CC-155 Buffalos and CC-130H Hercules.
The contract, valued at $2.4bn, will also include in service support, provided through a joint venture between Airbus Defence and Space and PAL Aerospace.
The C295W features substantial Canadian content. Every C295 is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada engines, pilots and technicians will be trained at a new facility developed by CAE in Comox, BC, and the electro-optical systems for FWSAR will be provided by L3 Wescam of Burlington, ON. In-service support for the life of the programme will be provided by AirPro, a joint venture between Airbus DS and PAL Aerospace of St John’s, Newfoundland. In-service support will be conducted by Canadians in Canada.
Canada’s C295Ws will be delivered starting three years after contract award. In service, they will join five Airbus CC-150 aircraft used in the air-to-air refueling, transport, and VIP travel roles.
When the contract is finalized, 185 C295s will have been ordered by 25 countries.