Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Canada in Iraq: Canadian CP-140M Aurora’s Reach 300 Sorties against ISIS

Published by DND (Press Release)

Article / December 8, 2015

Force Protection note: The threats posed against deployed CAF members vary between geographic locations and change frequently over time. It is essential that the CAF thoroughly assess such threats and implement appropriate measures to ensure the safety and security of deployed personnel. The CAF continually adapt these measures, including identity protection efforts, to the specific environment in which our personnel operate. Therefore, the need to protect the identities of deployed CAF members may differ between operations and over time.

Two soldiers stand on a runway to help direct an aircraft.
A Member of the RCAF Long-Range Detachment directs a CP-140 Aurora while taxing in Kuwait, as part of OP IMPACT.
Photo: OP IMPACT - CAF Combat Camera

Written By: Long Range Patrol Detachment - Air Task Force – Iraq

The low-pitched drone of a Canadian CP-140M Aurora’s engines greets members of Air Task Force-Iraq (ATF-I) as it taxies under the hot desert sun. The sound is a familiar one at the airbase in Kuwait, as the mission marked the 300thsortie for the aircraft in the fight to halt and degrade the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Aurora’s role within the coalition is to provide an Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capability; the Aurora gathers accurate information that informs any decision to engage a target. This effort is supported by the members of the Long Range Patrol Detachment team, along with the Weapon System Management team and key enablers in Canada.

“Canada’s Long Range Patrol Detachment is proud to celebrate over 300 multi spectral, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance missions in support of Operation IMPACT. Aurora maintainers, aircrew, sensor operators, and communications suite personnel are providing vital assistance to coalition efforts to enable local security forces as they take the fight to ISIS,” said the Long Range Patrol Detachment Commander.

Before CF-18s can execute a strike on a target, a significant amount of analysis needs to be performed to ensure that the target is a valid military objective and, most importantly, that it conforms to the Law of Armed Conflict.

The Aurora’s ability to gather video and still images over an extended period of time allows intelligence personnel to build a picture of the tactical level situation at a potential strike location. The footage and imagery attained is reviewed to determine the movement of ISIS fighters.

One of the Aurora’s tasks is to maintain awareness of ISIS positions and determine if there is any civilian activity in the area. This information allows planners and coalition partners to assess the impact an airstrike may have on a given area. The Aurora is a key component in the targeting process and assists leaders in determining the risks associated with an operation and minimizing the risk to the local population.

The Long Range Patrol Detachment flew its first mission on October 30, 2014, following the announcement by the Government of Canada that it would contribute air assets to the Middle East Stabilization Force.

A little over a year later, the ground crew technicians are maintaining high mission completion rates despite working in extreme heat and blowing sand.

“It is definitely more challenging to work in a desert environment but we are adapting to the conditions,” said an Aurora maintenance technician from 19 Wing Comox, British Colombia. “We are proud to represent Canada and know we are providing a strong contribution to the coalition’s mission.”