Tactical Helicopter Squadrons participate in pre-deployment preparation for Mali mission

On May 22, 2018 helicopters and personnel of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 450 and 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadrons finished an exercise to confirm their capabilities while awaiting the eventual deployment of a Task Force to Mali.

The pre-deployment preparation accomplished 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. Each scenario was designed to prepare the Task Force to work within a complex environment that imitated the realities of the peace support operation planned for Mali.

“The validation of the Forward Aeromedical Evacuation capability and Task Force represent a critical step in our preparations to deploy to 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 (MINUSMA), as directed by the Government of Canada,” said Colonel Chris McKenna, Commander (designate), Task Force Mali, in a press release issued May 22.

Canada announced, on March 19, 2018, its commitment to deploy a Task Force consisting of medium utility and heavy lift transport helicopters for up to 12 months to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Since then, planning and preparations have been underway, looking to deploy the Task Force in August 2018.

The CH-146 Griffon helicopters will serve as an armed escort for the Chinooks as they carry out critical mission requirements as part of MINUSMA, while in Mali. The CH-146 Griffon is a Utility Tactical Transport Helicopter (UTTH) that has been used since 1995. The Griffon’s primary job is tactical transportation of troops and material. It is also used for other tasks such as search and rescue (SAR) missions, surveillance and reconnaissance, counter-drug operations and armed escort for other helicopters.

“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. 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,” said Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, Commander, Royal Canadian Air Force, in a press release issued May 22.

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

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