Canada has put off a project to replace its five-decade-old Twin Otter military aircraft used in Arctic operations.
The move comes despite the government’s earlier assurance that it is committed to improving its defense capabilities in the north.
Instead of procuring new aircraft, Ottawa will extend the service life of its aging Arctic planes.
An evaluation of the fleet’s estimated life expectancy is now being conducted to determine what additional work needs to be done, according to the Canadian Department of National Defence.
“The Twin Otter remains a robust, versatile aircraft that continues to serve the [Royal Canadian Air Force] exceptionally well in the conduct of Northern Operations,” the department told Ottawa Citizen.
Procurement of new planes was supposed to start in 2024, with initial deliveries expected to be carried out in 2027.
First Life Extension
Operational since 1971, the Twin Otter military aircraft underwent its first life extension in 2017 as part of Canada’s “Strong, Secure, Engaged” defense policy.
New wings have been integrated into the plane, allowing it to continue operating until at least 2025.
However, since some other key components are now obsolete, the country’s fleet of four Twin Otters is feared to have limited capabilities in the vast Arctic.
“At present, the current CC-138 fleet does not have the capacity to support the majority of taskings,” Royal Canadian Air Force Col. Dave Pletz said in 2022.