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Two Hercules aircraft coming to Comox amid Kingfisher delay

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Two CC-130H Hercules planes will be coming to Comox this month to aid in search and rescue after delays in getting new planes.

Delivery of the CC-295 Kingfisher, the aircraft to replace the outdated CC-115 Buffalo, has been delayed because of complex work needed to meet the military’s requirements.

Along with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kingfisher’s initial operation will not be available until 2025-26, according to Forces Canada.

In the meantime, Forces Canada says the two Hercules planes will be flown to Comox from Winnipeg to assist in search and rescue operations.

Forces Canada says the Hercules will get to Comox at the end of May. They add it is capable of parachuting SAR technicians, emergency gear and food along with life rafts and other survival gear.

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Search and rescue in Victoria will have support from the CH-149 Cormorant helicopters from Squadron 442 in Comox, according to the military.

The new Kingfisher aircraft were supposed to arrive in Canada in 2020 and be fully operational by the end of 2022.

There are currently four Kingfishers in Canada and six in Spain. Forces Canada says in order for them to give the planes initial operational capabilities, they need five fully functional aircraft that are supported by trained crew and technicians.

They will be considered fully operational once all the planes are in Canada.

The $2.9 billion project means 16 new aircraft will be provided by Airbus Defence and Space, according to Forces Canada. The project will also include a new simulator-equipped training centre in Comox.

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