A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-148 Cyclone helicopter crashed into the Ionian Sea off the Greek island of Kefalonia, according to Greek media reports.
The helicopter, with six people onboard, went missing while operating out of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton (FFH 337) participating in NATO’s SNMG2 (Standing NATO Maritime Group 2) naval task force in the Mediterranean Sea.
Initial reports said the helicopter had been 50 nautical miles off Kefalonia (Cephalonia) between Italy and Greece when the incident occurred. The crash site is in the Italian Flight Information Region (FIR) and the Italian authorities are coordinating the search and rescue operations. According to Greek media reports, Greece has offered assistance if necessary.
According to the latest reports, an Italian Navy frigate arrived in the area of the crash. One member of the helicopter crew was reportedly found dead, with five others still missing. A Turkish Navy frigate is also in the area.
In addition to HMCS Fredericton, the NATO SNMG2 naval task force also consists of Italian Navy FREMM-IT Class multi-purpose frigate ITS Virginio Fasan (F 594) and Turkish Navy Barbaros-class frigate TCG Salihreis (F-246).
Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has confirmed the missing of its helicopter. The CAF statement said that the contact with the helicopter was lost as it was participating in Allied exercises off the coast of Greece.
1/2 Developing situation regarding our CH-148 Cyclone, deployed onboard HMCS FREDERICTON, which is currently contributing to Op #REASSURANCE.
Contact was lost with the aircraft as it was participating in Allied exercises off the coast of Greece.
— Canadian Armed Forces Operations (@CFOperations) April 29, 2020
The CAF added that the search and rescue efforts are currently underway.
The Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone is a twin-engine, multi-role shipboard helicopter developed by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation for the Canadian Armed Forces. A military variant of the Sikorsky S-92, the CH-148 is designed for shipboard operations and replaced the venerable CH-124 Sea King, which was in operation from 1963 to 2018.
The Cyclone is operational with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as of 2018 and is to conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW), surveillance, and search and rescue missions from Royal Canadian Navy warships. The helicopter is also to provide tactical transport for operations supporting national and international security efforts.
HMCS Fredericton set sail for a 6-month deployment on Operation REASSURANCE on January 20, 2020. Operation REASSURANCE is Canada’s contribution to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.