The Canadian armed forces’ new fleet of 16 Airbus Defence & Space CC-295 Kingfisher search and rescue aircraft may not reach initial operating capacity (IOC) until as late as 2026.

The first Kingfisher, which is built on a C295 platform, was delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in September 2020. The full fleet was scheduled to reach IOC status by summer 2022.

cc295 kingfisher

Source: Government of Canada

The Canadian armed forces have agreed to purchase 16 CC-295 Kingfisher search and rescue aircraft from Airbus Defence & Space in a deal valued at $2.26 billion

However, that has now been delayed substantially. In a written statement, Ottawa says the CC-295 will not reach IOC until sometime in the 2025-2026 time range.

The change is attributed to extended timelines associated with the design and development of the aircraft’s capabilities, as well as unforeseen technical issues and the Covid-19 pandemic. Such factors have compounded the complexity of the project and volume of remaining work.

The armed forces describes the delay as unfortunate, but not unusual for a complex project.

The Kingfisher is meant to replace the de Havilland Canada CC-115 Buffalo, which was retired in January, and the Lockheed Martin CC-130H Hercules. The Buffalo was retired from service as scheduled. Ottawa says search and rescue coverage across Canada’s vast expanse of wilderness will be maintained by shifting CC-130H assets and the use of other RCAF aircraft as needed.

Two search and rescue wings have already been fielded Kingfishers and will fly them operationally.

The CC-295 deal is currently valued at $2.26 billion.