Friday, April 10, 2009

Canada’s CH-146 Griffon and CH-147 Chinook helicopters reach initial operational capability

What follows is from the official Canadian Air Force News Room. The picture at right shows Canadian and American personnel boarding a CH-147 Chinook Helicopter at the Kandahar airfield as the Chinook prepares it's first mission transporting coalition personnel to foward operating bases. The picture was taken by CAF Captain Steve Hawken.

NOTE: Canada's higher per capita casualty rate due to IED injuries and deaths was the result of the lack of helicopter support. In the story below they mention that among others, the Dutch have been succesfully, using the Chinook in Aghanistan for years. What isn't mentioned is that the Dutch bought Canada's entire fleet of Chinooks back in the 1980's when they were on offer during prime minister Brian Mulroney's time in office. (You can actually see the old CAF makings under the new paint jobs on some helicopters.) Short sighted thinking caused death and injury.

In his post, Settling In, Scott Kesterson , embeded with American troops for the third time, says that "The Chinook has become one of the iconic images of the war in Afghanistan."

March 9, 2009 Canada's Air Force News Room

On March 3, 2009, Lieutenant-General Angus Watt, Chief of the Air Staff, accompanied by Colonel Christopher Coates, the Commander of the Canadian Air Wing in Kandahar, announced that the CH-146 Griffon and CH-147 Chinook helicopters had reached initial operational capability (IOC).

IOC is a declaration to Regional Command (South) that the CH-146 Griffon and CH-147 Chinook helicopters belonging to the Joint Task Force Afghanistan (JTF-Afg) Air Wing are ready to start providing a level of operational aviation support to Regional Command (South).

"I am very proud of every single member of the Joint Task Force-Afghanistan Air Wing," said Lieutenant-General Angus Watt. "In a very short period of time they have completed very demanding training, brought new aircraft into theatre, and have attained a high standard of operational capability."

The six Chinook D-model helicopters will enhance the International Security Assistance Force's (ISAF) ability to conduct air and aviation operations within the Regional Command (South) area of operations. The medium-to-heavy lift helicopters will provide an important transportation capability and increased options for the transportation of Canadian soldiers, as well as their Afghan and coalition partners.

The Chinook is a very reliable helicopter that has proven itself in both domestic and international operations. The U.S., the U.K. and the Netherlands have all successfully operated the Chinook aircraft in the challenging environment of Afghanistan. With their ability to carry large payloads and more than 30 soldiers, the Chinooks are a valuable asset and welcome addition to the ISAF aircraft pool.
The eight Griffon helicopters will be used to provide escort protection for the newly-acquired Chinooks, which will enhance CF capabilities, giving commanders the ability to move troops rapidly and with more flexibility. Griffons have been used effectively in many national and international humanitarian relief operations-including Manitoba's Red River flood in 1997, Eastern Canada's ice storm in 1998, and the United Nations effort to stabilize Haiti in 2004-and are a welcome addition to the JTF-Afg Air Wing inventory

This achievement is an important step in fulfilling one of the key recommendations of the Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan. These helicopters will enable the Canadian Forces to better support their civilian counterparts and will assist in more efficiently and effectively progressing Canada's priorities and signature projects in Kandahar Province.

The Air Wing will continue to develop its capabilities with these platforms in order to reach full operational capability (FOC). Canada's Heron unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) reached initial operating capability on January 31, 2009. Upon reaching FOC, Canadian Forces aircraft will be declared to have met the full scope of CF air support commitment to Regional Command (South).

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