CH-148 Cyclone In Flight
First Cyclone deployment “outstanding” – from the Royal Canadian Air Force
During Operation Reassurance, HMCS Ville de Québec’s CH-148 Cyclone helicopter flew 170 missions including surveillance and maritime security patrols, anti-submarine/anti-surface warfare sorties, passenger/cargo transfers, and weapons proficiency. After six months away on Operation Reassurance, 21 members of the Royal Canadian Air Force who deployed as the first Helicopter Air Detachment (HELAIRDET) to operate and maintain a CH-148 Cyclone during deployed operations, returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia, on January 21, 2019.
In July 2018, a CH-148 Cyclone from 12 Wing Shearwater, Nova Scotia, embarked in HMCS Ville de Québec along with the ship’s HELAIRDET. The detachment comprised eight aircrew, one mission support member, and 12 technicians from the aviation systems, avionics systems, aircraft structures, and air weapons trades.
HMCS Ville de Québec’s embarked Cyclone flew more than 500 hours, and 170 missions that included surveillance and maritime security patrols, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare sorties, passenger and cargo transfers, and general- purpose machine gun firing proficiency, as well as training for the HELAIRDET and for various teams from across many of the ship’s departments.
“This first operational deployment of the Cyclone has been a great experience for the members of the HELAIRDET and myself, as we have all been involved in the Cyclone project for many years,” says Major Erik Weigelin, the ship’s HELAIRDET commander. “The Maritime Helicopter community has long been waiting to finally see the Sea King replacement in action. The Cyclone has performed beyond our expectations for a first deployment, and that success is a direct result of the motivation and dedication of the members of the detachment. To be the ones who deliver the new ‘Wings for the Fleet’ was a great honour.”
Operation Reassurance is Canada’s contribution to NATO’s assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe. HMCS Ville de Québec, the HELAIRDET, and CH-148 Cyclone (call sign “Avalanche”) were assigned to Standing NATO Maritime Group 2. In October 2018, they participated in Exercise Trident Juncture, which provided the opportunity to work and train with naval ships, submarines, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft from Canada, Norway, Spain, Japan, the United States, and the Netherlands.
“To achieve this level of success and interoperability with our Allies on the first operational deployment of the CH-148 Cyclone is outstanding, and reflects the collective results of years of hard work,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Cory Kwasny, 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron’s commanding officer. “The detachment set a strong foundation for 12 Wing to build upon as we continue to develop the capacity of the aircraft and, more importantly, has shown that the future of maritime helicopter aviation in Canada is looking great.”
This deployment was a collection of firsts for the Cyclone. For example, the HELAIRDET’s technicians carried out the first- ever 400-hour inspection. This would have been impressive if they had conducted the inspection while operating at their home base. But these technicians were also faced with the unique challenges associated with operating in the constrained environment of the hangar of a warship at sea.
“It has been an incredible and rewarding opportunity to share the experience of the first CH-148 deployment during Operation Reassurance,” says Master Warrant Officer Shane Ringer, the HELAIRDET’s maintenance crew chief. “I am very proud of what the HELAIRDET has achieved specifically, ensuring that the CH-148 capability was readily available to Ville de Québec Command, and that the Cyclone program as a whole will benefit from our experiences.
“The HELAIRDET and its close working relationship with 12 Wing, the weapons system manager, the in-service support contractors, and Sikorsky personnel have proven that hard work, dedication, and determination enable extraordinary accomplishments.”
Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Ville de Québec and its Royal Canadian Air Force helicopter air detachment (HELAIRDET) have completed their six-month deployment with Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2). Operated and maintained by a highly capable helicopter air detachment, the Cyclone’s performance on this deployment has proven it to be a state-of-the-art, combat-capable aircraft, which will do great service as the ‘Wings for the Fleet’ for the Royal Canadian Navy for years to come. I have no doubt that the following CH-148 detachment deploying on HMCS Toronto will continue to make the RCAF proud.”
The HELAIRDET and its CH-148 Cyclone helicopter flew more than 500 hours during 170 sorties, 54 of which were Maritime Security Awareness surveillance patrols in support of NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian. The HELAIRDET was able to improve existing shipborne helicopter operating procedures, refine tactics to fit the Cyclone’s advanced capabilities and develop a robust integration of the aircraft with the modernized Halifax-class frigate, and validate the interoperability of the Cyclone with NATO Allies and partners.
The deployment of a Halifax-class frigate and CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter in support of NATO assurance and deterrence measures provides Canada with the flexibility to execute a range of missions across a broad spectrum of operations. The ship and aircraft support the international efforts in the region, including surveillance and monitoring, regional defence and diplomatic engagement, and capacity building.
“I am incredibly proud of the hard work and accomplishments of the crew of HMCS Ville de Québec over the past six months. Since deploying in July 2018 as part of Operation Reassurance, we conducted highly effective patrols and participated in key NATO exercises in the Atlantic Ocean.the Mediterranean, and the Norwegian and North Seas,” said Commander Scott Robinson, commanding officer of HMCS Ville de Québec.
“This deployment marks a historic moment for both the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force as we sailed with the highly capable CH-148 Cyclone helicopter on its first operational deployment. On behalf of the entire crew, I extend a heartfelt thank you to the families of all our sailors, soldiers and aviators who supported us during this six-month deployment. I also wish fair winds and following seas to HMCS Toronto as they replace us.”
Since 2014, the Canadian Armed Forces have deployed a maritime task force with a frigate on a rotational basis on Operation Reassurance. HMCS Ville de Québec began its support to NATO assurance and deterrence measures on July 19, 2018, and joined SNMG2 on its way to the Mediterranean Sea. SNMG2 is a naval task force made up of ships from various allied countries that work together for a common purpose. This deployment marks HMCS Toronto’s second deployment as part of Operation Reassurance; the first was from August 2014 to January 2015.
HMCS Ville de Québec deployed for 190 days, sailing more than 32,800 nautical miles. The ship conducted 14 operational ports of call in 12 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. During Operation Reassurance, the ship participated in Exercise Trident Juncture 2018, a multinational exercise consisting of approximately 50,000 personnel, 250 aircraft and 65 vessels from 31 NATO Allies and partner nations.
HMCS Ville de Québec also participated in five cooperative deployments with ships of the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force and Tunisian, Algerian, Turkish and Egyptian Navies. The ship hosted events onboard on behalf of the Canadian Ambassadors to Tunisia, Algeria and Israel, helping to strengthen Canada’s ties with the international community.