The joint support role must be recognized and satisfied

Ken Hansen has exposed yet another issue concerning defence procurement. The people who prepared the SOR for the CH 148 Cyclone failed to consider the full range of combat and non-combat operations that the CF may have to undertake over the life of that helicopter. If they had considered the real use of the Sea Kings it would have been obvious not every mission required ASW equipment or weapons. The Afghanistan War has, according to senior and junior RCAF personnel, finally produced an appreciation and understanding of the value and utility of a joint air force and army team in combat operations. The Griffin turns out to be a really useful machine for escorting Chinook helicopters moving soldiers to battle, and the Chinook (our machines were as old as our Sea Kings) were marvellous troop and supply lifters.
If we remember the aborted Standing Contingency Task Force concept, the air force modified five Sea Kings with air to ground communications equipment and seats for soldiers. If we should also take note that the ‘pseudo’ USAF, the US State Department, is purchasing 100 old Sea Kings, modified to S-61T standards, to serve in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The Sea King has new clothes for a continued combat life, even near age 50!
As the Cyclones will take some years before they and their crews mature, it is unlikely that they will be available for transport operations with any regularity. Why not retain the five ‘army’ Sea Kings until an ‘army’ Cyclone is acquired? After all, if the navy has its way, there will still be three antique destroyers and two even more elderly AORs available to carry the RCAF’s ‘army’ Sea Kings. Let us not throw the Sea King out without an adequate replacement for all of its current missions.