Friday, February 20, 2009

Afstan: Turning chopper tables

Nice to be able to pitch in in this way:
Canadian Chinook carries U.S. troops to battle

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Time was, Canadian troops were among those having to hitch rides around the Afghan battlefield on board the transport helicopters of other NATO allies.

Not any more.

A single Canadian CH-47D Chinook, flanked by two CH-146 Griffon escort helicopters, turned the tables Friday as it delivered a section of U.S. troops to a forward operating base west of Kandahar, its first such mission in support of allied countries...

Friday's mission went off without a hitch, save for the trio of birds that smashed into the windshields of both Griffons, causing a slight mess but no damage.

The arrival of the helicopters marks a significant, if somewhat symbolic, change for Canadian troops, who had until very recently been forced to rely on American, British and Dutch battlefield helicopters to ferry them between widely spaced desert outposts.

That won't change -- the Canadian choppers are being added to the pool of aircraft that are used by all NATO forces in the region. But at least now, Canada's contingent won't have to feel quite as dependent as it has in the past.

Since taking possession of six used Chinook helicopters from the U.S. Army at the end of December, Canadian pilots and flight crew have been engaged in a demanding series of training exercises.

Both the transport helicopters and their armed Griffon escorts have practised what pilots call "dust-ball landings" in the desert where the aircraft touches down in a plume of churned-up sand and then takes off again.

Gunners on both types of helicopter have also conducted target practice in the desert.

Both aircraft are flying operational missions here and there, but [Col. Christopher]Coates [commander of the Canadian air wing] said there is still some more training to do before the wing is declared fully operational.

"We're really well advanced in terms of training, but there are still some things we want to do to make sure we can use the aircraft to the full extent of their capabilities," he said.

"We're not quite there yet."..
Update: Combat Camera photo of Chinook in Afstan:


And an on-board C6 MG (note the shoulder patch):

C6 details here.


Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

Interesting article. The CF's back in the heavy transport chopper business! And nice for the ground troops-an hour's flight over that challenging terrain instead of a day's drive through it, plus avoiding whatever Taliban goodfellas and IEDs they might encounter.

Hope the windshield wipers dealt satisfactorily with the birds.

(Brought to mind an experience where I once had to pick the remains of a full-grown grouse off the radiator of my car. It'd flown in front of me while I was tooling down a California country highway at 60 mph. Radiator OK after hosedown but the grill was a write-off. Like tax revenue, kinetic energy MUST be spent. As Scotty always told Captain Kirk, "Ya canna break the laws of physics!" :-)

1:14 p.m., February 21, 2009  

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