Different planes may replace aging search-and-rescue fleet

A CC-130 Hercules military cargo plane from the 435 'Chinthe' Transport and Rescue Squadron arrives in Grande Prairie



OTTAWA - Defence Minister Peter MacKay has opened the door to replacing Canada's aging fixed-wing search-and-rescue fleet with other kinds of planes.

"We've broadened the specs to include the possibility of a mixed fleet," MacKay told the House of Commons defence committee Tuesday.

The public works department has given airplane manufacturers until Dec. 21 to express interest in bidding on the project to replace Canada's fleet Buffalo and Hercules search-and-rescue planes.

MacKay was coy when reporters asked him whether he officially backed continuing with a mixed fleet of planes for search and rescue.

"I think that's a question now that has to go to Public Works, as they're the ones now that are consulting with industry and seeing what's available on the market with regard to our operational needs," MacKay said as his communications assistant tried to pull him away.

Still, reporters pressed him to clarify.

"We want one that flies," MacKay said dismissively as he sauntered away.

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