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  • Griffons to Protect Canada's Chinooks in Afghanistan
    Posted by Graham Warwick 11:02 AM on Dec 04, 2008

    Canada has put the finishing touches to its plans to significantly increase air support for its forces in Afghanistan, announcing that eight Bell CH-146 Griffon utility helicopters will be deployed early in 2009 to act as escorts for six ex-U.S. Army Boeing CH-47D Chinooks that are to be operational in-theater by February.

    blog post photo
    Photo: Canadian Forces

    In preparation, crews from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron based in Edmonton have been training with the army units they will support in Afghanistan. Training has included aerial fire support, hot-and-high flying training in the United States, mountain flying and brownout landing practice. Canadian pilots have also been training on U.S. Chinooks in Kandahar while they await delivery of their "CH-147D" helicopters.

    The Griffons will get some significant mods before they deploy, says the Depratment of National Defence. In addition to the Wescam MX-15 electro-optical/infrared sensor being fitted under the Ingress project, the door gun used for self-protection will be upgraded in two steps. A "significantly enhanced" weapon with increased caliber and highter rate-of-fire is planned, but until the integration work is completed in mid-2009 an interim weapon able to sustain a higher rate-of-fire will be fitted.

    Concerns have been voiced about the hot-and-high-altitude performance of the CH-146, which is basically a Bell 412, but the DND says non-essential equipment has been identified that can be removed from the helicopters to provide additional safety margin at higher altitudes, or carry more fuel or mission equipment.

    The Chinooks and Griffons will be operated by the Joint Task Force Afghanistan - Air Wing. This will also operate the IAI Heron tactical UAV system that Canada has leased for two years. The Herons are likewise planned to be operational early next year, joining leased Boeing Scan Eagle small UAVs that have been in the field since June.

    blog post photo
    Photo: Canadian Forces

    Tags: ar99, Canada, CH-146, CH-147

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