Tactical helicopter squadrons prepare for deployment to Mali

News Article / May 23, 2018

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From the Royal Canadian Air Force

Helicopters and personnel from the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 450 and 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadrons completed an exercise on May 22, 2018, to validate their capabilities in anticipation of an eventual deployment of a Task Force to Mali as part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

The pre-deployment preparation achieved the integration of the CH-146 Griffon and CH-147F Chinook helicopters, the validation of the Forward Aeromedical Evacuation capability, and certification of the headquarters team.

The scenarios were designed to prepare the Task Force to operate in a complex environment that mirrored the realities of the peace support operation planned for Mali.

“The advanced tactical aviation capabilities of the Royal Canadian Air Force will make an invaluable contribution to the United Nations Peace Support Operations in Mali,” said Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, commander of the RCAF. “The Task Force is well-equipped and has formed as an effective composite aviation detachment to fully empower our airmen and airwomen to deliver their support to MINUSMA.”

The Task Force will provide two CH-147F Chinook helicopters from 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, based in Petawawa, Ontario, and four CH-146 Griffon helicopters from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, based in Edmonton, Alberta. Aircraft spares could also be made available to the Aviation Detachment.

The CH-146 Griffon helicopters will serve as an armed escort for the Chinooks in Mali as they carry out critical mission requirements as part of MINUSMA. As well, Canadian Armed Forces will provide a number of medically-trained personnel who will facilitate medical evacuations for partners and allied forces on the ground and provide logistical support for the mission.

“The validation of the Forward Aeromedical Evacuation capability and Task Force represents a critical step in our preparations to deploy to Mali,” said Colonel Chris McKenna, commander (designate) of Task Force Mali. “Participation in this exercise ensures that RCAF tactical aviation aircraft and personnel are prepared to uphold the commitment to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, as directed by the Government of Canada.”

On March 19, 2018, Canada announced its commitment to deploy a Task Force made up of medium utility and heavy-lift transport helicopters for up to 12 months to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Planning and preparations have been underway since that time, with a view to deploying the Task Force in August 2018.

Canada’s contribution will join 57 MINUSMA partner countries in their continued efforts to bring sustainable peace and stability to Mali and the Sahel.

About the helicopters

The CH-147F Chinook is an advanced multi-mission, medium- to heavy-lift transport helicopter. It is used to transport equipment and personnel during domestic or deployed operations. Since its most recent upgrade, the CH-147F has increased its internal fuel capacity, allowing it to fly twice as far as previous models.

The CH-146 Griffon is a utility tactical transport helicopter (UTTH) that has been in service since 1995. The Griffon's primary role is tactical transportation of troops and material. It is also used at home and abroad for search and rescue missions, surveillance and reconnaissance, counter-drug operations and armed escort for other helicopters.

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