Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

November 26, 2008 15:48 ET

Canada Increases Helicopter Capabilities in Afghanistan

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 26, 2008) - The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, today announced that eight CH-146 Griffon helicopters will be deployed to Afghanistan in early 2009 as part of the Joint Task Force Afghanistan (JTFA) - Air Wing. The helicopters, with crews from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron based in Edmonton, Alberta, will act as escort aircraft for the recently acquired CH-147 D Chinook helicopters. The deployment of the Griffon helicopters directly supports Canada's commitment to meet the conditions set forth by the Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan.

"The deployment of the Griffons in conjunction with the Chinooks displays our commitment to the men and women of the Canadian Forces (CF) while ensuring the security and effectiveness of the mission," said Minister MacKay. "We are proud of the work completed by all government departments to meet the February 2009 conditions established by the parliamentary motion."

The Air Wing will be composed of CH-147 D Chinook medium - to heavy - lift helicopters, Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and CH-146 Griffon helicopters.

The transportation capability provided by the CH-147 D Chinook helicopters, the escort capabilities of the CH-146 Griffon helicopter and the intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance provided by the Heron UAV will contribute to the reduction of risk to Canadian troops and government employees from ambushes, land mines and improvised explosive devices. These assets will all be deployed to Afghanistan by February 2009.

This deployment is an important enabler to help Canada achieve the benchmarks it has set for the six priority areas and three signature projects that define its work in Afghanistan. Today, the Government also released its second quarterly report to Parliament, a detailed assessment of its progress in Afghanistan covering the period mid-June 2008 to the end of September.

"The safe employment of Chinook helicopters requires the use of escort aircraft. Today's announcement fulfills the final requirements of the Air Wing," said Lieutenant General Angus Watt, Chief of the Air Staff. "The mounting of this unit and these new CF capabilities in such a short time represents a significant accomplishment by the dedicated and professional men and women of the CF."

The Griffons directly support the new air capabilities which were conditions set out in the Parliamentary motion of March 13, 2008 extending Canada's military mission in Afghanistan until 2011. These air resources were one of the recommendations of the Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan, headed by the Honourable John Manley.

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