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Military to fly old rescue planes longer as COVID-19 delays new aircraft

Last Updated Aug 3, 2020 at 12:11 pm MDT

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announces that the federal government of Canada will spend $2.3 billion to replace the military's ancient search-and-rescue planes with 16 new aircraft from European aerospace giant Airbus that at CFB Trenton in Trenton, Ont., on December 8, 2016. The Royal Canadian Air Force will fly its ancient search-and-rescue planes longer than expected as COVID-19 further delays the delivery of replacement aircraft. Defence officials are playing down any significant impact from the latest delay, which has left the first new search-and-rescue plane built by Airbus stranded in Spain. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force will fly its ancient search-and-rescue planes longer than expected as COVID-19 further delays the delivery of replacement aircraft.

Defence officials are playing down any significant impact from the latest delay, which has left the first new search-and-rescue plane built by Airbus stranded in Spain.

Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande says a recent analysis concluded the military has enough flexibility with its fleets to handle the delay.

Those fleets include six Buffalo aircraft and seven of the military’s older Hercules planes, all of which are around 50 years old and scheduled for retirement.

Lamirande says the military hopes to receive the new plane in the fall, which would be nearly a year later than originally planned.

The federal government first started looking at buying new search-and-rescue planes in 2002 before finally tapping Airbus to build 16 new C295Ws for $2.4 billion in 2016.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press