RCAF to get only five test choppers

The manufacturer of the air force’s new maritime helicopter has told National Defence it will deliver only five test aircraft this year — opening the door to tens of millions of dollars in fines on a project the auditor general has said is late and over budget.

OTTAWA — The manufacturer of the air force’s new maritime helicopter has told National Defence it will deliver only five test aircraft this year — opening the door to tens of millions of dollars in fines on a project the auditor general has said is late and over budget.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. is supposed to deliver a “fully mission capable” version of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter by June, or face a further $80 million in contract penalties on top of $8 million the federal government has already levied.

Senior defence officials say safety certification of the aircraft is still ongoing and it’s highly unlikely the giant U.S. aircraft-maker will meet its target, even though the program is years behind schedule.

“Sikorsky are only committing to deliver five by this year, which will be training aircraft,” said a high-level defence source, who spoke to The Canadian Press on the condition of anonymity.

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