435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, a CC-130 Hercules squadron based at 17 Wing Winnipeg, deployed to Sicily on May 17 in support of Operation Mobile.
Two CC-130 Hercules tankers are temporarily replacing one of the two CC-150 Polaris tankers, which returned to Canada for scheduled maintenance and to meet other operational demands.
“Air-to-air refuelling aircraft are critical to this operation and area always in high demand,” said Brigadier-General Richard Blanchette at a media briefing last week. “Without them, Canada and its allies would be unable to effectively fulfill their mission.
“Canada has been able to make a significant contribution to the coalition by providing airborne refuelling services to many nations, including the USA, Britain, France, and Italy.”
Op Mobile is the Canadian Forces' participation in Operation Unified Protector, the NATO-led effort to impose an arms embargo and no-fly zone authorized by the United Nations.
This newest deployment to enforce the no-fly zone continues 435 Squadron’s high operational tempo that began in 2010 when it supported the Winter Olympics in British Columbia by providing air-to-air refuelling to NORAD aircraft flying top cover and then performed the same service to the G8/G20 Summit in Ontario.
In 2010 the squadron was also called upon to support the Rim of the Pacific, the airlift of fuel and supplies to Canadian Forces Station Alert, the international Maple Flag Exercise in Cold Lake, Alta., Open Skies treaty verification in Ukraine, Exercise Combat Hammer in the U.S. and northern sovereignty operations in the Canadian North. Those were only some of the planned operations.
At the same time the squadron had to handle the numerous taskings that make up their day-to-day operations. A partial list of the unexpected operations includes the relief of Haiti following the earthquake in January when a 435 Squadron Hercules was the first aircraft into Jacmel airport in Haiti. Throughout the rest of the year the squadron responded to a major search and rescue operation at Norman Wells in the North West Territories, a medevac from Alert, and concurrent mobile repair party taskings to Kelowna and Abbotsford, B.C.
Even during normal operations, 435 Squadron keeps a crew on standby to support their SAR commitment. 435 Squadron search and rescue is responsible for the area from Thunder Bay, Ont., to the Saskatchewan/Alberta border and from the 49th parallel to the high Arctic. At any moment a search and rescue operation may have to be mounted.
For more information on 435 “Chinthe” (Transport and Rescue) Squadron, please visit: www.airforce.gc.ca/17w-17e/sqns-escs/page-eng.asp?id=412