Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What Is It With Canada and Helicopters?

Helicopters seem to be the curse of Canadian federal governments.

Kim Campbell, back when she was Mulroney's DefMin, hatched a plan to buy hi-tech EH-101 anti-sub helos for the Canadian navy just when the Cold War was ending and the Soviet submarine fleet was being run up on the beaches of Murmansk.

Jean Chretien scrapped that deal and Canada got sued for a bundle.

The Libs went ahead and bought stripped-down EH-101 helos for our Search & Rescue services only to find them saddled with stubborn technical problems.

The government finally went ahead and inked a deal with Sikorsky in 2004 to buy 28 Cyclone helicopters to replace the beyond-mere aging Sea King aircraft the Navy has sought to replace since the Campbell years. $5-billion for 28 helicopters, that's a lot for just a few. But apparently it's not enough for Sikorsky. The company has come back looking for another $500-million and is warning that delivery could be delayed another two years even if their money demands are met.

The feds are making noise about canceling the contract and suing Sikorsky for breach but the American helo company realizes it has us over a barrel. We just can't go back to the bidding process and wait for another outfit to come up with an alternative.

Maybe we're just a bunch of dumb hicks. American defence contractors have had the Pentagon by the short and curlies so long that they can't imagine meeting their obligations to small-change outfits like the Canadian government.

Wouldn't it be nice if the government took Sikorsky by the lapels and told them to live up to their deal? Don't count on it. Besides, it's only $500-million, barely twice what Canada puts out for food aid to the world's malnourished people. Chump change.

By the way, Sikorsky pitches the S-92 Superhawk/CH-148 Cyclone as "...cost effective to own and operate." Yeah, sure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When was the last time a large military contract actually ended on time and on budget? Or rather, when was the last time a large military contact actually came to completion? This is nothing by a money pit.