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

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s first case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Providence Health Care has teamed up with partners, including Island Health, to launch the first remote cochlear implant (CI) mapping program for adults in British Columbia. Duncan’s Alan Holt was one of the first to test it out. (Submitted)
Remote cochlear clinic offers shorter commute for patients like Duncan’s Alan Holt

Duncan man one of the first to test virtual mapping program

Larry Fiege, right, from Fiege’s Farm shows a rapt audience the old-fashioned way to tap a Bigleaf Maple during the Maple Syrup Festival at the BC Forest Discovery Centre Feb. 1 and 2, 2020. (Andrea Rondeau/Citizen)
Maple Syrup Festival in Duncan cancelled

The annual syrup festival is a popular event at the BC Forest Discovery Centre

The Lake Cowichan Legion received federal funding in December, 2020 to help the organization weather the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan Legion receives federal COVID-19 assistance funding

Can be used for expenses such as insurance, utilities, rent or mortgages, property taxes, and wages.

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Payette shouldn’t get same benefits as other ex-governors general: O’Toole

Former governors general are entitled to a pension and also get a regular income paid to them for the rest of their lives

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

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Most Read