Canadian CH-146 Griffon Modernization Program in Planning Stage

Canada is undergoing a program to modernize its fleet of 85 CH-146 Griffon helicopters; the aircraft is based on the Bell 412 helicopter.  The program is in the definition phase, during which Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Ltd will develop design changes to upgrade the helicopter’s avionics systems, engines, and cockpit displays, and integrate sensor systems.  This planning work is valued at up to CAD90 million, and will be performed under the existing CH-146 support contract awarded to Bell in 2011.

A Canadian helicopter flying in the snowy mountains

CH-146 Griffon.  Source: Canadian Forces

Following the definition phase, Canada plans to award a contract in 2022 to carry out the upgrades.  This portion of the upgrade program is valued at CAD800 million.  The modernization program is expected to allow the helicopters to fly until at least 2031, and it would not be surprising for Canada to push the fleet well past that date.

Canada plans to eventually launch a program to replace the Griffons sometime in the 2030s.  Previous government planning documents described replacing the Griffon via the Tactical Reconnaissance Utility Helicopter project.  However, this project has not appeared in more recent plans, suggesting more time is needed to iron out requirements, funding, and a projected timeline.

The Griffons were delivered between 1995 and 1997.  The Royal Canadian Air Force uses the aircraft primarily as tactical transports, but they are also used for other missions, such as search and rescue, surveillance and reconnaissance, and training.

About Shaun McDougall

As editor of International Military Markets, North America, Shaun has cultivated a deep understanding of the vast defense markets in the United States and Canada. Shaun's perspective on defense procurement and budget issues has been cited in a variety of defense periodicals, including Defense News and National Defense Magazine. Further, Shaun played an integral role in the development of Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast product, which offers an unprecedented level of insight into the Pentagon's acquisition budget. In addition to providing original analytical content for the U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, Shaun oversees an internal defense budget forecasting process involving Forecast International's team of skilled systems analysts following release of the DoD's annual budget request. Shaun is also in charge of managing Forecast International's Weapons Inventory database.

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