- Feb 8, 2007
- Land of Swine and Maple Syrup
Another good news story and it's great to hear that more of my Air Force brothers will finally get to "cut their teeth". I'm very curious to see how these birds operate in that theatre.
Canadian-made Griffon helicopters arrive in Kandahar
Last Updated: Saturday, December 20, 2008 | 3:08 PM ET Comments86Recommend32
The first of Canada's armed CH-146 Griffon helicopters arrived at Kandahar Airfield on Saturday.
The six helicopters, and two more that are expected to be deployed early next year, will provide escort and protection for the larger U.S. CH-47D Chinook transport helicopters also being used by Canadians based in southern Afghanistan.
The lumbering Chinooks are more vulnerable to attack by ground fire and rocket-propelled grenades, so they typically travel with smaller, armed escorts like the Griffons.
The smaller craft have been given extra sensors and Gatling guns on top of their existing side-door machine-guns and armour plating, military officials say.
The Griffons will give air cover to ground convoys and will be on standby to evacuate battlefield casualties, they say.
The commander of Canada's air wing, Col. Christopher Coates, said the Griffons may also be used to spot roadside bombs, which have killed more than half of the 103 Canadian soldiers lost in the Afghanistan mission since it began in 2002.
Canadian military expands to the skies over Afghanistan
Air wing shifts some of the cargo burden to helicopters
Last Updated: Sunday, December 7, 2008 | 12:49 PM ET Comments105Recommend53
Canadian soldiers held a parade at Kandahar Airfield on Sunday marking the deployment of a new air wing, which will relieve them of some of the more dangerous tasks performed on the ground.
The Canadian Air Wing will have at its disposal six newly leased Russian-made helicopters and six U.S. Chinook helicopters that were purchased.
Eight Canadian-made Griffon helicopters will act as armed escorts for the other aircraft.
The Canadian Air Wing will be complete early in the new year and will include two types of unmanned surveillance drones.
The aircraft will be used by whichever NATO country is most in need of them, but Canada should have more leverage in gaining access.
"Obviously if you contribute to the [NATO] pool, it means you have more call on the assets when you need them," said Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson, commander of Canadian troops stationed in Kandahar province.
The Air Wing will have 450 personnel assigned to keep the aircraft flying.
Regular traffic of military vehicles on Afghan roads has proven deadly for Canadian soldiers as insurgents increasingly target supply convoys.
More than half of the 100 Canadian soldiers who have died in Afghanistan since 2002 have been killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
The problem was highlighted by John Manley's commission on Afghanistan, which set a deadline of February 2009 for obtaining medium-lift helicopters.
Canadian troops have used long-haul cargo planes in Afghanistan, usually the C-130 Hercules, but they've lacked easy access to helicopters, unlike the British, U.S., and Dutch forces.