New search-and-rescue aircraft (SAR) aircraft being manufactured by Airbus for Canada will come equipped with Elta Systems' ELM-2022A maritime patrol radar. 16 radars will be delivered for integration on the C295 aircraft being procured, however, Elta's parent company, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), did not disclose any further details in relation to the sale. IAI did say
that the multi-mode radar will assist in all aspects of the Canadian SAR mission
, offering detection, localization, classification, and tracking of targets over water and land in all weather conditions, day and night. So far, 250 ELM-2022 radars have been supplied to customers worldwide in more than 25 countries, and this is the eighth project IAI have collaborated with Airbus on for maritime patrol radars. Costing Ottawa some USD$2.4 billion, deliveries
of thenew SAR deal will run from 2019 until 2022, with the C295s gradually taking over duty from Canada's six de Havilland Canada CC-155 Buffalos and 13 Lockheed Martin CC-130H Hercules at four bases spread across the country.
The USA isn’t the only country whose SAR (search and rescue) aircraft programs are having a hard go of it lately. In 2004, Canada announced a program to replace its aging DHC-5 (CC-115) Buffalo (West Coast) and CC-130E/H Hercules (East Coast) search-and-rescue planes with at least 15 new aircraft. Some of the Canadian Forces’ CC-130s have already been grounded after flying 40,000 – 50,000 hours, and a contract has been signed for C-130J replacements.
The SAR project hasn’t been so lucky. The first SAR aircraft was supposed to be delivered in 2006, with all deliveries complete by 2009. Unfortunately, the Conservative Harper government temporarily shelved the project when it came to power, and subsequent efforts to restart it have featured one poor performance after another. The competitors have since expanded beyond the familiar duo of the Alenia C-27J Spartan with its speed advantage and C-130J compatibility, vs. the EADS-CASA C-295M with its longer fuselage and lower operating costs. Yet expanded options are no substitute for serving planes, and at least 1 victim has already died because the current fleet was unserviceable. What Canada’s SAR program really needs right now is transparency and urgency. Neither is currently in evidence.