Canada will integrate a mobile phone detection and location package into the country’s fleet of CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopters – the local designation for Leonardo Helicopters’ AW101.

UK technology firm Smith Myers on 28 May said its Artemis system for tracking and locating mobile phones has been selected for inclusion in the C$1 billion ($733 million) overhaul of the CH-149 fleet known as the Cormorant Search and Rescue Helicopter Mid-Life Upgrade (CMLU) programme.

That effort is being overseen by Leonardo under a 2022 contract with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). The suite of CMLU upgrades will extend the service life of Ottawa’s Cormorants to at least 2042 and enhance the fleet’s capabilities to match the latest search and rescue standard set by Norway.

The RCAF currently operates 13 CH-149s, with three more examples on order with Leonardo, Cirium indicates.

CH-149 Cormorant-c-Leonardo Helicopters

Source: Leonardo Helicopters

The Royal Canadian Air Force currently operates 13 CH-149 maritime search and rescue helicopters, with three more on order

Oslo also selected the Artemis system for its fleet of AW101 search and rescue rotorcraft. Cirium data indicates 15 of the type are currently operated by the Royal Norwegian Air Force, with an additional example on order and options available for six more.

Royal Norweigan Air Force AW101 search and rescue c Smith Myers

Source: Smith Myers

Norway’s fleet includes 15 search and rescue-configured AW101s

Smith Myers describes the Artemis system as a “critical addition” to Canada’s CMLU modernisation effort, which will improve the overall effectiveness of RCAF search and rescue operations.

“This innovative technology enables precise mobile phone detection, enhancing location accuracy and reducing search times,” the Bedfordshire-based company says. “The result is a more efficient and focused rescue effort, enabling less search and more rescue.”

Although the CMLU programme specifically covers the RCAF’s CH-149 helicopters, Smith Myers managing director Andrew Munro describes Artemis as the service’s mobile phone detection, location and communication system “across fixed- and rotary-wing platforms”.

Leonardo says the full suite of CMLU improvements will reduce Ottawa’s cost of ownership, while increasing the CH-49 fleet’s reliability and operational capability.

The Cormorant upgrades come as Canada is separately pursuing the acquisition of a new multi-role tactical rotorcraft to replace the RCAF’s current fleet of 82 Bell 412 helicopters.

That programme is valued at $13.5 billion over 20 years.