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January 28, 2019 | Local, Aerospace

Government of Canada invests in the modernization of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CH-146 Griffon

January 26 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

As outlined in Canada's defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, the Government of Canada is making investments to re-capitalize and extend the life of equipment to ensure our women and men of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) have the equipment they need to fulfill the Canadian Armed Forces' (CAF) core missions.

In support of this, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Andy Fillmore, on behalf of Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan, announced today that Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Limited will be undertaking design work to extend the life of Canada's fleet of 85 CH-146 Griffon helicopters to at least 2031.

The first phase of this life extension is the definition phase, during which Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Limited – the original equipment manufacturer – will develop design changes to upgrade the helicopter's avionics systems, engines, and cockpit displays, and integrate sensor systems.

This definition work, valued at up to $90 million (including taxes), will be performed under the existing support contract for the CH-146, which was awarded to Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Limited in 2011. The overall scope of the Griffon Limited Life Extension project is estimated to be valued at approximately $800 million (taxes included).

The Griffon, Canada's multi-purpose utility helicopter, is essential to CAF operations both at home and abroad. The helicopter fills a number of functions, including tactical troop transport, reconnaissance, escort and surveillance, casualty evacuation, disaster relief, special operations aviation support, and search and rescue.

Upgrading the CH-146 will ensure that it continues to make important contributions to the success of the full range of the CAF's missions and operations.


“Through our defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, we are providing the women and men of our Canadian Armed Forces with the equipment they need to do the important work we ask of them. A tactical transport helicopter capability is absolutely critical to the success of the full range of military operations. With these upgrades, we are ensuring that our military can continue to rely on this proven helicopter for years to come.”

Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

“We are ensuring the women and men who proudly serve in our Canadian Armed Forces have the equipment they need to carry out their important work at home and abroad. While investing in military equipment maintenance, we are also creating good middle-class jobs and generating growth for Canadians businesses.”

Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility

I am proud to be announcing the modernization of the CH-146 Griffon. This project benefits both Canadian industry and our women and men in uniform by supporting high-quality jobs while ensuring the RCAF has the equipment it needs to succeed in operations.”

Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism

“Our government's policy ensures Bell Helicopter will invest back into our economy on a dollar-for-dollar basis to the total value of the contract. Through these investments and their partnerships with Canadian industry, Bell Helicopter will continue to be a key contributor to our economic growth, creating more jobs for Canadians and spurring innovation.”

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“Extending the life of the CH-146 Griffon fleet will ensure the longevity of the RCAF's tactical helicopter capability. These helicopters have performed extremely well over the years and with these new upgrades, they will continue to be a valuable asset that will allow our personnel to carry out missions and operations successfully well into the future.”

Lieutenant-General A.L. Meinzinger, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force

Quick facts

  • CH-146 Griffons are currently deployed on Operation PRESENCE in Mali, providing an armed escort for the CH-147 Chinooks during medical evacuations and transport of troops and supplies.

  • Griffons are also deployed on Operation IMPACT in Iraq, carrying Canadian troops, equipment, and supplies in support of the CAF's training mission.

  • CH-146 Griffons provided close fire support and tactical transport during the CAF's engagement in Afghanistan, reducing exposure of CAF personnel to ground threats such as ambushes, land mines, and improvised explosive devices.

  • The CH-146 is based on the commercially available Bell 412 helicopter, and was developed with unique specifications for the Canadian Armed Forces.

  • Canada's fleet of CH-146 Griffons entered service between 1995 and 1997.

  • The CH-146 can carry up to 15 people (two pilots, a flight engineer, and 12 passengers), has a maximum gross weight of nearly 5,400 kilograms, and can reach speeds up to 260 kilometres per hour.

  • The Griffon Limited Life-Extension (GLLE) project will extend the life of the fleet to at least 2031 while the project for the acquisition of the next generation of tactical utility helicopters is developed and implemented.

  • Once the definition phase is complete, a separate contract is expected to be awarded for implementation in 2022.

Associated links

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