As the Canadian Forces said goodbye in December to the CH-124 Sea King, the country’s trusty naval helicopter, its sleeker replacement, the CH-148 Cyclone, entered the scene. The shiny new toy in the Forces’ arsenal is pictured here firing off a spectacular display of defensive flares during training in Europe. While the flares are dazzling (and useful—they’re meant to misdirect incoming radar-targeted missiles by confusing the machine’s heat signature), they were a feature on the old Sea King, too. The real advancements the Cyclone brings are much more subtle. Aircraft like these are the eyes and ears of ships, and the Cyclone’s updated sensors allow it to see and hear further than the Sea King. But the most notable update is the introduction of autopilot—a feature the Sea King fleet lacked—which will be a huge help to crew on long trips. Maj. Craig Law, at Canadian Forces Base Shearwater in Nova Scotia, trains Sea King pilots for Cyclone operation. “It’s like comparing your old sports car, your classic car, to the new vehicles that you see on the road today,” he says. “One is obviously very capable and has its beauty, and the newer one is like anything shiny and new—it’s got the latest and greatest of computers, components and software on board.”
This article appears in print as The Big Picture in the June 2019 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Flashy features.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.