Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Program
DRS Meets the FWSAR Training Challenge

© 2016 FrontLine Defence (Vol 13, No 4)

The topography of Canada is perhaps the world’s foremost challenge for search and rescue operations. If the C-27J Spartan is chosen to become the nation’s next fixed-wing search-and-rescue (FWSAR) aircraft, the mission of DRS Technologies Canada Ltd. will be to help make that challenge more manageable.

Participating in a joint venture known as Spartan Aviation Services between corporate parent Leonardo-Finmeccanica and General Dynamics Mission Systems—Canada, DRS Technologies Canada, as the prime contractor and systems integrator for training systems, leads a group of Canadian companies. The group would build a training centre in Comox, British Columbia, and design a training program for it.

DRS has developed an integrated training solution that combines elements from established suppliers across Canada for the training of all FWSAR aircrew members and maintenance personnel. The Comox location on the eastern shore of Vancouver Island is considered ideal because of its proximity to nearby mountain ranges as well as other government and military training centres that will play a key role in the training program.

 “Our training solution brings together first-class Canadian experience and suppliers that will provide state-of-the-art training support systems to meet Fixed-Wing SAR needs,” said Steve Zuber, vice president and general manager of DRS Technologies Canada, Ltd. “Our ultimate goal is to ensure excellent training for these crews who provide a vital service for Canadian citizens.”

The DRS solution combines top-tier training elements from established suppliers located across Canada. They include Bluedrop Training and Simulation of Halifax and TRU Simulation + Training of Montreal. Bluedrop would supply sophisticated courseware to meet the design requirements established by DRS and TRU. TRU would design and deliver training devices, including a full flight simulator. ATCO Structures and Logistics of Calgary, another member of the Spartan team, would design, build and maintain the training center.

DRS also would design and build an operational mission simulator, a sensor station simulator, and a mission procedures trainer. A virtual maintenance trainer would be built by Leonardo Aeronautics (formerly Alenia Aermacchi), the manufacturer of the C-27J Spartan. The training devices would be based on a common architecture, which would support the maximum re-use of the software simulated, optimizing the in-service support and minimizing costs due to configuration changes.

Canada is an imposing challenge for search and rescue operations but certainly one within the realm of modern aircraft and well-trained crews. If the C-27J Spartan is chosen to become the nation’s next FWSAR aircraft, the mission of DRS Technologies Canada Ltd. will be to deliver an integrated training system solution to support the SAR mission.

A rugged and maneuverable multi-mission aircraft, the Spartan offers some of the most up-to-date features available in aviation today. It can transport troops and cargo; air-drop paratroopers, equipment and material; and carry out medical evacuation and special missions. Designed for short takeoffs and landings, the Spartan could use a wide range of airfields, including truncated and unprepared Arctic strips that lack support equipment.  

The Team Spartan proposal includes a commitment to deliver 100% of contract-value industrial offsets and benefits in the form of long-term jobs and far-reaching investments in Canadian firms and technology.

“This is a vital mission for Canada and we are bringing together the best Canadian companies to ensure mission success,” Zuber said.

If the C-27J is selected, Team Spartan will manage the integrated logistic support for the aircraft through Spartan Aviation Services, a joint venture company led by General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada and Leonardo Aircraft, and headquartered in Ottawa, ON. It will be the Canadian in-service support integrator for the aircraft. In addition to overseeing all of the training system operations, Spartan Aviation Services will have the support of a strong Canadian partner network across the country.