Auroras enhance capability at RIMPAC 2014

News Article / September 11, 2014

By Captain Jeff Noel

A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CP-140M Aurora Long Range Patrol aircraft descends stealthily toward its unsuspecting target, an enemy submarine on patrol just beneath the moonlit surface of the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. “Sonobuoy away,” advises the Tactical Navigator as the night’s Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) prosecution begins.

This could be the opening sequence of a Tom Clancy novel. In fact, it was the type of scenario that RCAF and coalition aircraft operating from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, flew 24 hours a day for three weeks as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014. RIMPAC is the world’s premiere combined and joint maritime exercise; this year’s iteration took place around the Hawaiian Islands and in San Diego from June 26 to August 1. More than 1,000 Canadian airmen, airwomen, sailors and soldiers participated in the exercise.

“Missions vary depending on the phase of the exercise,” said Major Filip Bohac, RIMPAC 2014 Long Range Patrol (LRP) Detachment Commander. “In the earlier phases most missions are scripted and about five hours long, but in the final ‘Free play’ phase the objectives become more strategic and flexible so missions tend to be longer, and we fly around the clock.”

RIMPAC provided the RCAF with an opportunity to test a number of upgrades to the systems that have been integrated into the Block III Aurora, and use the training garnered from the exercise to enhance capabilities. A variety of technical trials and tactical development is also underway.

“As our understanding of the new and improved capabilities of the Block 3 increases, we need to develop the tactics, techniques, and procedures to optimally employ these new capabilities,” Major Bohac said. “Our contribution to RIMPAC is always a balance between cost, value of training, and what other operations are ongoing that impact aircraft and crew availability. RIMPAC is an ideal opportunity for us to train in a demanding coalition environment. We always try to maximize our contribution.”

All units of the RCAF’s LRP fleet were represented at RIMPAC 2014: 404 Long Range Patrol and Training (LRP&T) Squadron, 405 Long Range Patrol (LRP) Squadron and the Maritime Proving and Evaluation Unit (MPEU) from 14 Wing Greenwood, and 407 (LRP) Squadron from 19 Wing Comox. The LRP detachment, part of the RCAF’s RIMPAC Air Task Force, comprised more than 100 headquarters, aircrew, maintenance, and mission support personnel.

This year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the 24th in the series that began in 1971, involved 22 nations, 49 surface ships, 6 submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel.


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Airborne Electronic Sensor Operators use advanced electronic sensor systems to operate airborne sensors onboard long-range patrol aircraft, maritime helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles.

They are responsible for detecting and tracking submarines, providing support for search and rescue operations/medical evacuations, and assisting other government departments and agencies in the collection of evidence and counter-narcotics patrols.

Their primary technical functions are to:

         - Operate radar, electrooptic/Infrared systems, magnetic anomaly detection, and electronic warfare equipment
         -  Take airborne photography
         - Load and arm airborne weapons, and search stores systems
         - Operate the helicopter-mounted machine gun system
         -  Operate unmanned aerial vehicle electronic sensor systems
         - Communicate with internal and external agencies; both civilian and Allied forces
         - Collect evidence

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