The federal government is dropping key performance standards for navy helicopters due this fall in exchange for the manufacturer's promise to guarantee another $80 million in work to Canadian aerospace companies.


A Canadian military Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone conducts test flights with HMCS Montreal in Halifax harbour in April. ((Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press))

A spokesman for the federal Department of Public Works says the first Cyclone choppers that fly from the navy's frigates won't have a system allowing some secret tactical information to be exchanged between ships and helicopters.

That was one of the original requirements in the $5.1-billion contract to build and service the 28 helicopters, which are over three years behind the original schedule.

In addition, the first six helicopters being built by U.S.-based Sikorsky no longer have to pass an endurance test for flying in warmer temperatures.

The software for some military missions, such as the sonars, also won't be completed by the fall.

A spokesman says that because of the delay, Sikorsky is promising to provide an additional $80 million in service contracts to Canadian aerospace industries and that Ottawa would receive up to $30 million if there are future sales of the Cyclones to other countries.

A spokesman for the Defence Department says Ottawa believes that the first six helicopters can still be used for training until helicopters that meet the standards arrive in June 2012.