A Royal Canadian Air Force Cormorant helicopter from 103 Search and Rescue Squadron based at 9 Wing Gander takes off from the airport in Deer Lake, N.L. on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. Canada is planning to spend $1.8 billion to upgrade its fleet of military search-and-rescue helicopters ⁠— nearly double what was originally budgeted. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Canada to spend $1.24 billion on rescue helicopter upgrades through sole-sourced deal

Canada is planning to spend $1.24 billion to upgrade its fleet of military search-and-rescue helicopters ⁠ — more than $200 million more than what was originally budgeted.

Defence Minister Anita Anand and Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek announced the sole-sourced deal to upgrade the military’s Cormorant helicopters late this afternoon.

The federal government has been planning to upgrade the Cormorant fleet for years, which will include modernizing its 13 existing helicopters and buying three new ones.

But negotiations between Ottawa and Cormorant builder Leonardo broke down in 2019 after the European company’s proposal was deemed too expensive.

The government had initially budgeted $1.03 billion for the project when it was announced in 2018.

Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande says the budget was later increased after a fresh round of negotiations and the updated amount accounts for new requirements, inflation and foreign exchange rate fluctuations.

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