This article about the Canadian maritime helicopter CH-148 Cyclone caught my eyes because it was the headline on Sunday’s Ottawa Citizen. The article was so long that I couldn’t find time to read it until I was at work. (Hey, I’m expecting my vacation in two weeks; am I suppose to work my ass off?) The helicopter is always a difficult topic to understand, both procurement and operation. As was mentioned in the article below, there were many twists in the procurement process. This really makes it hard to follow how we end up with the Cyclone helicopters. I thought the procurement of our VICTORIA class submarine was interesting; it seems the history of Cyclone is more interesting. (A nice reference on the VICTORIA class submarine is J.D. Perkins’ ‘The Canadian Submarine, Service in Review’.)
In the article, General Dynamics was mentioned in a paragraph. The sensor in question, I believe, is multi-static sonar system. This system consists of several sonobuoys (deployable sonars in cylindrical casing) and a computer system that integrates the sonar data to form an acoustic “picture” underneath the water surface. It is obvious that this is an ASW (anti-submarine warfare) system. What is interesting here is that the Canadian Forces no longer consider ASW as an important area. ASW was important during the Cold War era because gigantic Soviet submarines could carry ballistic missiles to launch an attack. Therefore it was important to ensure that our waters had no enemy ready for firing. After the 911 Attack, we are officially living in a world of asymmetric threat. (The term “asymmetric” refers to the strength of the opposing forces compared with our military strength. Terrorists and insurgents are prime examples of asymmetric forces.) Nowadays, our ships are safer because we do not expect our opponents can attack us underwater. This is why ASW becomes less important than it was. Perhaps a few Cyclones without ASW capability yet on early delivery is not a bad idea; the Navy can use these multi-purpose aircraft for other things. After all, the Sea Kings are too old to fly and too much to maintain.