A Cyclone helicopter flies over HMCS Fredericton as its crew leaves the Halifax Harbour for a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea as part of NATO’s Operation Reassurance in Halifax on Monday, January 20, 2020. Defence officials are scrambling following reports a Canadian military helicopter has gone missing while participating in a NATO operation in the Mediterranean Sea.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

A Cyclone helicopter flies over HMCS Fredericton as its crew leaves the Halifax Harbour for a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea as part of NATO’s Operation Reassurance in Halifax on Monday, January 20, 2020. Defence officials are scrambling following reports a Canadian military helicopter has gone missing while participating in a NATO operation in the Mediterranean Sea.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Canadian military helicopter missing while operating in Mediterranean: DND

Helicopter went missing in the sea between Greece and Italy while operating off a Canadian frigate

The Canadian military was scrambling for answers Wednesday after losing contact with one of its new Cyclone helicopters, with reports that at least one person was killed when it crashed into the Mediterranean Sea.

The Cyclone was deployed onboard the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton and was participating in a NATO exercise off the coast of Greece when the incident occurred, according to the Canadian Armed Forces.

“Search and rescue efforts are currently underway,” the military said in a statement. “As this is evolving, we have no further information to provide at this time.”

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s Cyclone helicopters carry a crew of four, including two pilots, a tactical operator and a sensor operator with space for several passengers. They are primarily based on naval vessels and used for hunting submarines, surveillance and search and rescue.

Greek state broadcaster ERT was first to report that a Canadian military helicopter had gone down in the water between Italy and Greece. The broadcaster later said one body had been found and five others onboard were missing.

HMCS Fredericton left Halifax with the Cyclone for a six-month deployment to Europe in January. While the navy has since recalled several of its warships due to COVID-19, the Fredericton has continued its mission.

The vessel made a port call in Italy in March and was scheduled to visit Greece as well as the Black Sea. It is currently one of eight warships attached to NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2, which are responsible for providing a visible military presence in the Mediterranean.

The crash of a Cyclone helicopter would represent a terrible blow for the military, which only started using them on real missions in late 2018 after more than a decade of developmental challenges, delays and cost overruns.

It is also likely to raise questions about the aircraft.

The military was originally supposed to have received 28 Cyclones from manufacturer Sikorsky starting in November 2008. But the first helicopter wasn’t delivered until June 2015 and even then, they were missing vital equipment and software and only suitable for training.

In 2012, Peter MacKay, who was then defence minister, described the Cyclone deal in 2012 as “the worst procurement in the history of Canada.” MacKay is now a candidate in the Conservative leadership race.

More recently, defence officials have more recently praised the aircraft — of which only 18 have been delivered so far — as it has replaced the military’s ancient Sea King and started real operations. That is despite one having been damaged last year when it had a “hard landing” in the Pacific Ocean.

“Getting this helicopter fielded was a long and winding journey and it’s been a great thing to actually get those helicopters on the ships,” said defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

“If one did crash, they would obviously need to do an investigation to figure out why because there’s any number of different things that could potentially have happened, some of which may have had to do with why the helicopter took a long time to be introduced.”

— with files from The Associated Press.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Armed ForcesCanada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Chilliwack survey asks for feedback on planned Rosedale skate park

The new structure will occupy a 3,000 square foot space in the middle of Rosedale Park

Newly installed art work honouring the Brett family aviation history in Chilliwack. (Anthem Properties)
WATCH: Neon sculpture beaming yellow light across downtown Chilliwack in the shape of a plane

New public artwork in Salish Plaza honours aviation pioneers, the Brett family of Chilliwack

Jag Deol, owner of Sangam Restaurant and Catering, is collecting non-perishable food items for the Chilliwack Salvation Army at both his restaurant locations. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack restaurant hosts food drive for Salvation Army

Sangam restaurant will match all donations of non-perishable food that come in

Crews work on reconstructing Spadina Avenue in Chilliwack on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Sprucing up of Spadina Avenue with $2.8 million redux wrapping up shortly

Curbing, trees, landscaping, irrigation and street lighting should be complete by early December

Chilliwack’s Klim twins, Matthias and Zach, are the tall guys in the back row (Zach with a green stuffie on his shoulders, Matthias to the right), helping to sort toys at the Archway Community Services Food Bank in Abbotsford. (UFV Cascades photo)
Chilliwack’s Klim twins get involved in community service with UFV men’s basketball team

No games for the G.W. Graham grads due to COVID, but they are doing other things with the Cascades

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Abbotsford mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby comes home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

The online poster for Joel Goddard, who left his Willoughby home Nov. 10, 2020, has been updated by his family and friends who received word that he’s been found.
Langley man missing since Nov. 10 found alive and safe in Abbotsford

Family of the Willoughby area man had been searching for days. Police find him at Abbotsford Airport

A UBC study recommends an multi-government investment of $381 million to protect 102 species at risk in the Fraser River estuary. (Photo supplied by Yuri Choufour)
102 Fraser River estuary species at risk of extinction, researchers warn

UBC team develops $381-million strategy to combat crisis, boost economy

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

Most Read