The Airbus C295W variant's winglets help the aircraft transport more payload over longer distances in hot and high conditions, resulting in fuel savings of around 4% and increased safety margins in mountainous regions. This increase in range is a significant asset when performing search and rescue operations over Canada's vast countryside and coastal waters.

Canada’s future search and rescue aircraft get its first set of eyes

L3 WESCAM delivers sensor suite to Airbus for incorporation on the new C295W airlifters.
Today, L3 WESCAM delivered the first of its first MX-15 electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) system to Airbus Defense and Space in support of Canada’s Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircraft replacement program.

The delivery – the first of 20 – represents a significant milestone as the Canadian Department of National Defense (DND) begins to replace its legacy SAR aircraft, the CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130H Hercules, and the technology within, with new Airbus C295W multi-role tactical airlifters.

Airbus, which was awarded the 11-year, $2.4-billion FWSAR contract on December 1, 2016, will provide 16 C295W aircraft and spare parts, establish training and support infrastructure, and deliver continued maintenance services.

Canada’s future C295W crews will use the capabilities provided by the MX-15 systems to locate missing persons across the country’s 18-million square kilometers of search area.

The MX-15 units themselves include EO/IR sensors with local area processing to enhance image detail and dynamic range, while reducing image noise. They are fully-stabilized and gimbaled for four-axis freedom of movement.

The high-sensitivity sensors and advanced GEO and intuitive technologies within the MX-15 will provide SAR operators with exceptional day and night visual capabilities despite atmospheric interference and will operate with detection and identification ranges that will help to shorten search grid patterns and on-scene search times.

“L3 is proud to partner with Airbus on this much-anticipated Canadian program – as it really hits close to home for WESCAM and its large base of Canadian employees,” said Matt Richi, president of L3 WESCAM. “The aircraft and the technologies that support this program have been referred to as ‘game-changers’ for Canada, and we couldn’t be happier to be a key system in the overall solution.”

L3 WESCAM, based in Burlington, Ont. Canada, is subsidiary of L3 Technologies. L3 Technologies is headquartered in New York City.

Learn more

William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include 'literally anything that has to do with space,' past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.
Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at
  Continue reading »