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  1. #1
    Senior Member RangeBob's Avatar
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    Fire Sale: Canada Buys Marine One Choppers

    28 Jun 2011

    Well, it's happened; the long rumored sale of the nine VH-71 helos that at one time made up the beginnings of the Marine One replacement fleet have been officially sold to Canada dirt cheap.

    Nope, the VIP birds won't be ferrying the Canadian prime minister around or flying the Queen on her visits to the frozen north instead they'll be hangar queens. Yup, the tricked out helos will be used for parts for Canada's fleet of Cormorant rescue choppers.

    The fleet was reportedly mothballed out at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland. The nine helicopters were in various stages of being outfitted with all sorts of creature comforts, communications gear and countermeasures required to carry the commander in chief when the program was ended a couple of years ago.

    From this Ottawa Citizen article by my old colleague at Defense News David Pugliese:

    The nine US101 helicopters as well as additional spare parts were purchased at a cost of around $164 million. That price includes shipping, handling, and engineering support.

    The Obama administration had pulled the plug on the US101, also known as the VH-71, after the projected cost of the aircraft doubled from $6.5 billion to $13 billion U.S.

    News reports indicate the U.S. government invested $3 billion into the helicopters, before the Pentagon decided to withdraw from the program.

    "This package is considered an excellent one-time opportunity for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces to address long-standing CH-149 Cormorant fleet availability issues related to the availability of spare parts," noted Defence Department spokeswoman Kim Tulipan.

    The VH-71s and the Cormorants are similar variants of the AgustaWestland EH-101 helicopter so there are a number of common parts, she added.

    An initial shipment of spare parts arrived in March. The remainder of the items will follow between now and September.

    The availability of spare parts for the CH-149 Cormorant fleet, delivered to units starting in 2001 and 2002, remains an ongoing problem, military officers have said.

    Wait a second; the canucks are saying that 'hey, we can't get any spare parts for our almost brand new helicopters, eh." Wait, what?

    One big question we have here at DT is; in a time of tight budgets, why aren't these birds being reused by the U.S.? Especially since the Pentagon recently renewed the VXX presidential helicopter replacement program.

    hxxps://www.military.com/defensetech/2011/06/28/fire-sale-canada-buys-marine-one-choppers

  2. #2
    Senior Member RangeBob's Avatar
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    Airworthy U.S. presidential helicopters to be stripped for parts in Cormorant modernization program

    September 8, 2019

    That decision means that the U.S. VH-71 presidential helicopters, bought by Canada in 2012 and put in storage, won’t fly in Canadian military colours

    A fleet of U.S. presidential helicopters bought by Canada seven years ago will be stripped down for parts by the Canadian military to keep its search and rescue choppers flying.

    The Royal Canadian Air Force had studied the option of adding the seven helicopters, which are airworthy, to the current CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue fleet. The air force was told by the aerospace industry that modifications could be made to the American presidential fleet, aircraft from the same family of helicopters as the Cormorants, so they could be added to the flight line.

    But that plan was shelved and last month the Liberal government announced that Canada would modernize the 14 existing CH-149 Cormorant helicopters and acquire at least two more such aircraft.

    That decision means that the U.S. VH-71 presidential helicopters, bought by Canada in 2012 and put in storage, won’t fly in Canadian military colours. Instead, they will be stripped down for parts, although some of those systems could form a significant portion in the CH-149 modernization program.

    “As the VH-71 and CH-149 are from the same family of helicopters, the VH-71 assets will be used as sources of parts for the upgraded and expanded CH-149 helicopter fleet,” Department of National Defence spokesman Andrew McKelvey stated in an email. “The utilization of V-71 parts will save money on the cost of the upgrade.”

    Canada purchased the nine new VH-71 presidential helicopters and more than 800,000 spare parts in 2012 after U.S. President Barack Obama shut down the multi-billion dollar program and decided that existing aircraft were good enough for his needs. Seven of the helicopters included in the $168 million deal were airworthy.

    For years, the Department of National Defence insisted that the presidential helicopters would never be used as actual aircraft. But some officers inside the Royal Canadian Air Force argued that since the $3 billion helicopters could be flown, it didn’t make sense to strip them down for parts. In addition, the helicopters were brand new, with less than 100 hours each of flight time.

    The option of flying the presidential helicopters as search and rescue aircraft was eventually considered an option.

    But on Aug. 22 Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced that the government would proceed with modernizing the existing Cormorant fleet and adding at least two additional Cormorant helicopters to the fleet. That project is valued at almost $1.4 billion, according to the Department of National Defence.

    A contract for the modernization project should be signed next year with Leonardo, the Italian aerospace firm whose subsidiary builds the Cormorant. The project will see the CH-149s upgraded to a design recently bought by Norway for its search and rescue missions. The delivery of the first upgraded Cormorant is expected in 2022, according to the Department of National Defence.

    Canada had embarked on the presidential helicopter deal with the aim of trying to cut down on the excessive amount of time the CH-149 Cormorants spent on the ground because of a lack of parts.

    The plan worked, according to military documents obtained by Postmedia using the Access to Information law. The pool of 800,000 chopper parts, combined with a decision to order more spare parts from the original helicopter manufacturer, cut down on the number of sidelined Cormorants.

    “The VH-71 spares have had a very positive impact on the Cormorant fleet in terms of operational availability,” the documents pointed out. “The injection of a large quantity of repairable parts into the asset pool has been critical in mitigating major technical challenges with the fleet.”

    “Without access to the VH-71 spares, the Cormorant fleet would have been unavailable for search and rescue duties for extended periods at one or more operating bases,” the documents added.

    Canada originally bought 15 Cormorants, but one crashed in 2006.

    hxxps://nationalpost.com/news/airworthy-u-s-presidential-helicopters-to-be-stripped-for-parts-in-cormorant-modernization-program

  3. #3
    Senior Member LB303's Avatar
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    I've always wondered why we never were able to buy and operate other US hardware that instead went into mothballs.
    Seems like it would be a win-win in some cases, but politics got in the way?

  4. #4
    Senior Member RangeBob's Avatar
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    People ask how Conservatives could balance the budget, while the Liberals say we need deficits.
    I say: buy new on sale!

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  6. #5
    Senior Member linung's Avatar
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    doesn't really make sense to spend 1.4 Billion to upgrade the fleet.

    I think it would be easier and cheaper to put the 7 airworthy chopper into service and use the rest for spare parts. The 7 chopper getting replaced can become spare parts to keep the rest of the fleet in service.
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  8. #6
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    That was a heck of good price for what was purchased, I hope it’s being used in a fiscally responsible way.
    What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms."
    - Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787

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