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Griffon Helicopters (412's)

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DND recently stated that they awarded a contract to Bell Helicopters do a study, to enhance the capability of the Griffon, to last DND until sometime in the 2030s. The original UH-1N  (military certified with military parts) Bell-manufactured helicopters that were replaced by the Griffons (B412) ( FAA certified parts for civilian use) with updated power components and were bought to replace the outdated UH-1N.

The UH-1N's were owned by the US State Department and returned.

The Canadian Government bought civilian B412 FAA and TC approved helicopter from Bell Helicopter, of the shelf, added military equipment and called them Griffons.

We also own Chinooks and the Griffons are supposed to protect the Chinooks, ha, ha. The Chinooks outpace the Griffons.

Back in the days that we owned Chinooks, originally before the brainless people at DND decided to sell them to the Dutch, we only had the Griffons to send to Afganistan and whatever we could contract. We ended up borrowing Chinooks from the Dutch.

NOW, they want to update a Vietnamese airframe that is already outdated.

Airbus has been producing helicopters more suited to Canadian applications than Bell.

The H145 is a more versatile helicopter suited to the Military with its adaptability to more configurations and fully modern capabilities, plus millions of proven flight hours.

There is always the possibility that Airbus could build an assembly plant in North Grenville, just south of Ottawa on route 416, between Petawawa and Montreal.

The Canadian Government is already giving grants to Stars Helicopters (EMS) and the RCMP just received their H145 for BC.

  DND, look before you leap and issue an ITB to the industry.

 

 

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I agree that there are far better aircraft out there such as the 145 that could service our military well above expectations.

 

the problem is political though. With Bell and Quebec. how does anyone compete fairly with that?? The gig is up on SNC Lavelin, so bribery is out of the question. 

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Reference: "CH146 Griffon Capability Replacement: Informed By The Past, Prepared For The Future", author LCol JKA Fountain, DND Paper published 2016

Below find an excerpt from the Ref paper. There was also an agreement in place between the US and Canada that allowed the US to offer surplus military equipment at greatly reduced costs (to its allies).  The rumour at the time was that the US was offering Canada, at the time of the Griffon purchase,  Model A Blackhawk helicopters for $1 million (US dollars) per airframe. Apparently this was disregarded by the government for political reasons (explained in the excerpt below). 

"In November 1991 a study cosponsored by ADM(Mat) and Commander Air Command was initiated to explore the cost benefits of replacing all utility helicopter fleets with one aircraft type. The study concluded that doing so would be a cost effective measure, 2 however, it did not consider loss of capabilities. The prioritization of funding within the RCAF without adequate consideration of the loss of Tactical Aviation capability sets was the first error that occurred in the decision process to rationalize tactical aviation assets. The misguided prioritization of funding left tactical aviation community with a one fleet option; however, minimal military input was accepted regarding what platform should be used. The politicians had decided to purchase the Griffon before the CAF was able to draft the Statement of Operational Requirement (SOR). In April 1992 when the contract for the Griffon was announced two politically favourable outcomes would occur. First, the cries of favouritism towards Ontario would be silenced following the recent large purchase of armored vehicles built in London, Ontario. As well, the future of the fledgling Bell manufacturing facility would be stabilized . The Defence Minister, Marcel Masse, a minister from Quebec with a history of directing favourable defence contracts to his home province announced an untendered $1.3 billion dollar contact in April 1992 to be awarded to Bell Helicopter for the production of 100 Bell 412CFs, known to the CAF as the CH-146 Griffon. While it was recognized that a utility helicopter purchased under the Canadian Forces Utility Tactical Helicopter (CFUTTH) project would lack capability in the reconnaissance, firepower and transport missions, the Land Force wished to cover as much of the tactical aviation tasks as possible. As well as traditional air mobility tasks the Commander Force Mobile Command (Land Force Commander) specifically mentioned reconnaissance, fire support coordination, command and liaison and surveillance as important aspects to cover. Even though the CFUTTH Statement of Requirements (SOR) was reverse engineered from the decision to buy the Griffon, it still acknowledged the deficits above and accepted that “there would probably not be enough aircraft procured to do all tasks (required by Comd Force Mobile Command)… simultaneously”. It was clear that the CFUTTH project would not provide the numbers of aircraft or the capabilities required. The second error therefore occurred when the existing procurement process was ignored in favour of a politically directed, one-for-one platform replacement. Stove-piped decision making and ignoring established procurement processes resulted in the Auditor General reporting in 1998 that the Griffon was more costly to operate than its predecessors, had inadequate lift performance, and a limited reconnaissance capability6 . The CFUTTH (SOR) stated “the UTTH has neither the maneuverability of the light observation helicopter nor the single aircraft lift capability of the CH147”. Helicopters magazine highlighted that the Griffon was “woefully inadequate” in its ability to conduct troop transport and reconnaissance. Additionally, Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent Sharon Hobson added that the Griffon procurement demonstrated how “too often decisions are made on the basis of shortterm political opportunism without a view to the long-term implication for the Canadian Forces and the Canadian Public”.

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Annnnnd 20 years later we get seven 412epi for the CCG. Another inadequate aircraft for the mission. All because of CanCon.

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