1 Wing Kingston History
The oldest Wing in Canadian military aviation, No. 1 Canadian Wing Royal Air Force was formed in 1919 and disbanded in 1920. Over the following decades, 1 Wing was re-instated and moved several times: Winnipeg, 1925; Montreal, 1950, in the RCAF Reserve Group as part of Air Defence Command with operational responsibility for the defence of North America; England, 1951, in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); Marville, France, 1955; and Lahr, Germany, in 1967.
In 1958, 1 Wing was assigned to Air Transport Command and equipped with Beechcraft Expeditors and subsequently, with the de Havilland Otter aircraft which it flew for the next 25 years. As the Otter came to the end of its useful life, 1 Wing began flying the CH-135 Twin Huey and the CH-36 Kiowa helicopters in a tactical aviation role as part of 10 Tactical Aviation Group (10 TAG). In 1994, the CH-146 Griffon replaced the Twin Huey and the Kiowa as the workhorse of 1 Wing. On June 26, 1997, 1 Wing succeeded the disbanded 10 TAG and moved into its new home at Canadian Forces Base Kingston, Ontario.
As part of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, the Canadian Helicopter Force Afghanistan (CHF(A)) was established at Kandahar Airfield on December 6, 2008, and reached full operational capability in May, 2009. Equipped with eight CH-146B Griffon light utility and six CH-147D Chinook heavy lift helicopters, CHF(A) was activated to provide Canada and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with enhanced tactical aviation support in southern Afghanistan. CFH(A) flew reconnaissance, transport, fire support, escort, and air mobile ground assault missions. Primarily made up of 1 Wing members from 400, 402, 408, 427, 430 and 438 Squadrons, it was complimented with personnel from all Wings and numerous Army units from across Canada. Throughout its period of operations, CHF(A) established an enviable record of flexibility and reliability in the full range of combat aviation activities. Before standing down in August, 2011, the CHF(A) fleet moved 91,608 passengers and 7,111,504 pounds of cargo while logging 23,428 combat hours.
In addition to the CHF(A), members of 1 Wing operated the CU-161 Sperwer Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV) working closely with members of the Canadian Army. Supporting intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance, the TUAV Flight was equipped with high mobility vehicles and operated from unprepared sites using a portable hydraulic catapult launch and parachute and airbag recovery system.
1 Wing Today
Self-contained and field-deployable, the Tactical Helicopter Squadrons that make up 1 Wing train and integrate with the Army brigades within their geographic regions. The squadrons are tasked to support combat operations, peacekeeping missions, international relief efforts as well as other government departments and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). 1 Wing squadrons have participated in operations such as Operation (Op) ATHENA in Afghanistan; Op HALO in earthquake-devastated Haiti; Op FORGE in northwest Ontario during emergency evacuations of communities threatened by forest fires; Op NANOOK in Canada’s Arctic; Op LENTUS providing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response in flood-stricken parts of Western Canada; and Op RENAISSANCE delivering humanitarian relief to the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
In July 2014, the RCAF received the last of 15 new CH-147F Chinook heavy lift, tandem rotor helicopters into 450 THS in Petawawa, Ontario, where 1 Wing personnel are actively acquiring the knowledge, skills and expertise needed to first establish an in-Canada training capability, followed immediately by progressive levels of operational capability of the new fleet of heavy-lift aircraft. The Chinook fleet will become fully operational by 2017.