12/13/2015 13:53 EST | Updated 12/13/2016 00:12 EST

RCAF needs to speed up delivery of Cyclones to avoid chopper shortage: DND

OTTAWA — Canada's air force must speed up crew training and the delivery of CH-148 Cyclone helicopters in the next two years in order to avoid a shortage as five-decade old Sea Kings are finally retired.

A senior defence official has told The Canadian Press they are looking at ways to do both, starting next year.

Concern that the Sea Kings may be phased out faster than the Cyclones are fully capable of replacing them has been around since the former Conservative government announced last June that the old helicopters would be slowly retired by 2018.

The fear is some warships might have to go to sea without helicopters.

The 28 Cyclones, which have faced repeated development delays since being ordered in 2004, are not expected to be fully operational on both the East and West Coasts until 2021.

Many of the setbacks relate to the development of the sophisticated software that runs everything from flight controls to weapons systems.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information legislation show defence officials believe not all of the fixes will be in by the time the aircraft is declared fully operational.

Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press