For the last two weeks, Naval Air Station The Kooy, in the Netherlands, hosted a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-148 Cyclone helicopter. The Cyclone, a military customized version of the Sikorsky S-92, arrived at the Naval Air Station during planned maintenance and a crewchange of its mother ship, the HMCS Halifax at that time being at Den Helder, a naval base situated in the north of the Netherlands.

HMCS Halifax is part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG 1). The embarked CH-148 Cyclone, with serial 148805, however is assigned to the Helicopter Air Detachment (HELAIRDET) of the frigate. The Cyclone belonges to the 12 Wing, 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron, based at CFB Shearwater, Canada and was flown to nearby Naval Air Station The Kooy so it could continue training flights.

423 Maritime Helicopter (MH) Squadron is Canada’s operational Maritime Helicopter Squadron on the east coast. Based at 12 Wing Shearwater, Nova Scotia, the squadron is home to CH-148 Cyclone helicopters and readily deploys helicopter air detachments (HELAIRDETs) that embark on Royal Canadian Navy warships. On an ongoing basis, 423 MH Squadron conducts advanced force generation activities both ashore and at sea, in order to prepare maritime helicopter aircrew and maintenance personnel to deploy at a moment’s notice in support of international or domestic operations.

Internationally, the squadron supports the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in operations around the world. During operations abroad, the Cyclone conducts tasks including surface and subsurface surveillance, maritime interdiction operations, and humanitarian relief delivery. Recently, 423 MH Squadron HELAIRDETs have deployed on  notable missions abroad, including:

  • Op REASSURANCE in the Mediterranean Sea in support of Canada’s NATO allies;
  • Op ARTEMIS in the Arabian Sea to carry out counter-terrorism operations;
  • Op CARIBBE in the Caribbean Sea to counter illegal trafficking in the region;

Regardless of the theatre of operations, 423 MH Squadron aims to be the most versatile, responsive, and operationally-focused squadron in the RCAF.

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The Government of Canada ordered 28 Cyclones in 2004, stated the cost for the 28 Cyclones includes $3.2 billion for acquisition project management, infrastructure and contingency costs. The cost for major in-service support until 2038 is $5.8 billion.

The Cyclone began missions for the Canadian Armed Forces in late 2018 in a Block 2 configuration. The first Cyclone in a Block 1 configuration was received by the Canadian Armed Forces in mid-2015.

The Sikorsky CH-148, which officially replaced Canada’s fleet of ageing CH-124 Sea Kings in 2019, is designed for shipboard operations, including anti-submarine warfare (ASW), surveillance, search-and-rescue missions from Royal Canadian Navy warships, and tactical transport for national and international security efforts.

One operational CH-148, serial 148822, embarked on HMCS Fredericton, was lost in the Ionian Sea (Greece) on 29th of April 2020.

Currently, there are 20x CH-148s operational within the RCAF while seven others are still not delivered. These seven are currently civil registered and assigned to the manufacturer. It is expected that by mid-2022, all 27 helicopters are delivered, resulting in a delay of ten years, with full operational capability set by the RCAF for 2025.