The Government of Canada has announced it is allowing for the continuation of mission critical roles for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) by replacing two Challenger model 601 utility aircraft with two Challenger model 650s, the government said.
The retiring aircraft that entered service in the 1980s, fall short of operational requirements and are nearly obsolete due to new rules in the United States & Europe that will restrict their ability to fly internationally before the end of this year.
The replacement ensures CAF can continue to operate a modern and flexible utility flight service fleet that serves a variety of roles — including reconnaissance and liaison missions with international partners, and the speedy deployment of specialized capabilities and expertise, including the Disaster Assistance Response Team.
Without this needed replacement, the Royal Canadian Air Force´s operational effectiveness for missions would be limited. The aircraft are used for the medical evacuation of military personnel serving overseas and the safe transport of CAF medical personnel and specialized equipment in the critical first few hours and days of someone being wounded. They are also used for the safe extraction and repatriation of personnel and citizens.
The CAF´s existing Challenger fleet consists of four aircraft. With the implementation of new international regulatory and interoperability requirements in 2020, only half of the fleet is fully compliant with international standards.
The Challenger 650 aircraft is the current production version of the model that the CAF currently operates. This commonality will result in significant benefits in efficiency, cost, and interoperability, both in terms of training and support to operations.
The Challenger fleet is maintained by Transport Canada technicians and operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force out of the Ottawa International Airport.