EO/IR Systems configured to Effectively Support 18 Million km2 Search Area
L3 WESCAM announced on 27 July it has delivered to Airbus Defence & Space the first MX-15 EO/IR system in support of Canada’s Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircraft replacement programme.
Canada has a search area of 18 million km2, making time-critical SAR operations challenging. The high-sensitivity sensors and advanced intuitive and geo-technologies within the MX-15 will provide SAR operators with exceptional day and night visual capabilities, despite atmospheric interference, and will operate with detection and identification ranges that will help to shorten search grid patterns and on-scene search times.
The on-time delivery of L3’s MX-15, the first of 20 planned deliveries, is a significant milestone as Canada begins to replace its legacy SAR aircraft, the CC-115 BUFFALO and CC-130H HERCULES, and the associated technologies. “L3 is proud to partner with Airbus on this much-anticipated Canadian programme – as it really hits close to home for WESCAM and its large base of Canadian employees,” commented company President Matt Richi. “The aircraft and the technologies that support this programme have been referred to as ‘game-changers’ for Canada, and we couldn’t be happier to be a key system in the overall solution.”
L3 WESCAM’s work with Airbus on this programme is an ideal example of the Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy benefiting Canadian industry by requiring successful bidders on major defence contracts to reinvest the contract value in Canada.
“Thanks to the efforts of Canada’s high-performing aerospace companies like L3 WESCAM, the FWSAR programme is making excellent progress. We’re delighted to be working with them and very satisfied to see this latest milestone being reached on time,” observed head of Airbus Defence & Space Canada, Simon Jacques.
The first aircraft are expected to be delivered in 2019. Training for the aircrew will begin by that time. The final aircraft are expected to be delivered in 2022. This will also mark the beginning of the long-term maintenance and support services for the aircraft. After the first few aircraft are delivered, the new fleet will begin to operate alongside the existing fleet as it gradually transitions to becoming the main operator at all times. The contract for the initial period of 11 years is valued at C$2.4 billion (plus applicable taxes) and includes delivery, set-up of support systems (training centre, initial spare parts, tools, support and test equipment, electronic information environment, etc.) and the first five years of maintenance and support of the aircraft.
The contract also includes the opportunity for the company to earn contract extensions for the operation and maintenance of the aircraft in increments of 1-3 years, for up to a possible additional 15 years. This could potentially extend the maintenance and support services until 2043, for a total value of $4.7 billion (plus applicable taxes).