Originally published on Canadian American Strategic Review October 2014
When the new Polar class icebreaker, CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, enters service early next decade the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) will be equipped with a state of the art platform for sovereignty assertion, northern resupply, search-and-rescue, and environmental protection.
CCGS John G. Diefenbaker will have an organic shipboard aircraft capability in the form of a medium-lift helicopter. The medium- lift helicopter will be the Bell Textron Canada 412EPI a ‘Twin Huey’ descendant and, essentially, the same aircraft as Royal Canadian Air Force CH-146 Griffon utility helicopters.
In Canadian Coast Guard service, the new medium-lift helicopters will support Canadian Coast Guard Ships’ missions as well as providing a Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) capability, and, aboard icebreakers, act as ice scouts. With the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, there is an opportunity to better ‘leverage’ this icebreaker’s capabilities with a larger and more capable helicopter.
Within its category of Medium-Lift Helicopters, the CCG includes its single Sikorsky S-61N, a civil equivalent to the RCAF’s CH-124 Sea King shipboard helicopter. This is a much larger aircraft than the Bell 2412 being acquired. This also shows that the CCG would not completely rule out the use of a larger, ‘Heavy-Lift Helicopter’. So, where do we find such a helicopter?
Just one ‘fall-out’ from the endlessly delayed shipboard Maritime Helicopter Project (MHP) is the appearance of ‘non-compliant’ CH-148 Cyclone airframes known as Interim Maritime Helicopters (IMHs). DND’s current plan is to rebuild existing IMH Cyclones to bring these airframes up to ‘fully compliant’ standards. A simpler proposition is transferring the ‘non- compliant’ IMH to the Canadian Coast Guard.
There are only a handful of CH-148 Interim Maritime Helicopters.  Rather than rebuilding IMHs, the Government of Canada could insist that Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation substitute newly-built and fully compliant CH-148 Cyclones as compensation for late delivery on their Maritime Helicopter Program contract. IMH airframes could then be transferred to the CCG.
A Canadian Coast Guard variant of the Sikorsky CH–148 Cyclone maritime helicopter would provide the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker with an aerial asset better matching – and extending – its own capabilities. CCG Cyclones would retain most of their RCAF equipment fit. In CCG service, the IMH’s surface search radar and other sensors – including the powerful thermal imaging electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) turret – would greatly extend the capabilities of the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker. Even dedicated anti-submarine warfare capabilities such as the ability to deploy sonobuoys and dipping sonar might have utility as scientific research aids.
Breaking Ice – Interim Maritime Helicopter meets National Aerial Surveillance Program
There is a possibility to go even further though. A CCG Cyclone has no need of the complex Mission Data Management System (MDMS) software to be used by its RCAF siblings. That MDMS package might be replaced with MSS 6000, the mission management system used by the patrol aircraft of Canada’s National Aerial Surveillance Program. The Swedish MSS 6000 would allow the use of a sophisticated Side-Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR).  With that, Canada would have a powerful tool for Arctic Sovereignty and environmental protection.
Every time the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker Polar class icebreaker deployed, it would bring with it an extension of the environmental and sovereignty patrol capabilities of NASP. 
 Currently, four Interim Maritime Helicopters (MH 805, MH 806. MH 807, & MH 808) are at CFB Shearwater. Transferred to the CCG, this would be sufficient for one helicopter onboard the CCGS John G Diefenbaker, one spare, and two for cooperative CCG/RCAF joint training. Other than joint training, the CCG would also be in a position to take advantage of the RCAF In-Service Support maintenance contracts and benefit from the larger supply of spare parts.
 NASP aircraft are fitted with twin SSC/Saab side-looking airborne radar antennae. SLAR can detect both oil slicks and very small vessels, making SLAR an ideal sensor for large area surveillance. The SLAR antenna provides a day/night view 25 nautical miles (46.3 km) to the aircraft’s side. One option for longer-range patrols would be to carry a single SLAR antenna on one of the CCG Cyclone’s sponson stores pylons with a fuel tank on the opposite pylon.