The Royal Canadian Air Force will fly its ancient search-and-rescue planes longer than expected as COVID-19 further delays the delivery of replacement aircraft. CP photo

Military to fly old rescue planes longer as COVID-19 delays new aircraft

Defence officials are playing down any significant impact from the latest delay

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force will fly its ancient search-and-rescue planes longer than expected as COVID-19 further delays the delivery of replacement aircraft.

Defence officials are playing down any significant impact from the latest delay, which has left the first new search-and-rescue plane built by Airbus stranded in Spain.

Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande says a recent analysis concluded the military has enough flexibility with its fleets to handle the delay.

Those fleets include six Buffalo aircraft and seven of the military’s older Hercules planes, all of which are around 50 years old and scheduled for retirement.

Lamirande says the military hopes to receive the new plane in the fall, which would be nearly a year later than originally planned.

The federal government first started looking at buying new search-and-rescue planes in 2002 before finally tapping Airbus to build 16 new C295Ws for $2.4 billion in 2016.

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