MacKay, recently in Halifax, said that a Cyclone helicopter is expected at 12 Wing Shearwater soon (some in the defence community have suggested it could possibly arrive within weeks).
Jay Paxton, MacKay’s press secretary confirmed that the minister said that the first Cyclone would “soon” arrive. However, Paxton said that MacKay did not outline a specific timetable for the delivery or mention that it could be “within weeks.” Paxton did not provide further details on the delivery schedule.
The government had originally announced in December 2008 that the first Cyclone helicopter would be delivered in November 2010.
That is still a year from now, so if this original schedule is maintained then MacKay is arguably stretching the phrase "soon."
Sikorsky did not respond to a Defence Watch request for comment.
The first 19 helicopters delivered to the Canadian Forces will be designated as Interim Maritime Helicopters (IMH). These IMH aircraft will be fully functional and able to conduct testing and evaluation and training for MH maintenance and air crews, yet will not be fully compliant with the delivery contract, according to DND. Delivery of the first fully capable MH aircraft that meets all contract specifications will be in June 2012, at which point the previous IMH aircraft will then be retrofitted.
Training of MH air and ground crews to operate the Cyclone will begin in 2010, while operational testing and evaluation will be carried out with the new Cyclone aircraft in order to verify and validate the operational capabilities of the aircraft prior to its release to service, DND has noted in its backgrounder on the Cyclone.
The delivery has long been anticipated.
In July 5, 2007, Capt Erik Weigelin, Project Officer, HOTEF (Shearwater's Helicopter Operational Test & Evaluation Facility) wrote this for the Air Force:
“The much-anticipated arrival of the CH148 Cyclone to 12 Wing draws ever nearer, and preparations for its delivery continue at a rapid pace at Shearwater's Helicopter Operational Test & Evaluation Facility. HOTEF is charged with conducting Initial Operational Test and Evaluation of Sikorsky's newest helicopter to ensure it is fully capable of meeting the needs of the operational frontline crews who will man it, as well as the needs of the training squadron who will prepare those crews.