By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch
|FA2006-0249 16 May 2006 4 Wing, Cold Lake, Alberta 2 CH 146 Griffons from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron take off on a mission. Elements of 408 Squadron deployed to 4 Wing Cold Lake along with 17 Wing Winnipeg's Mission Support Unit for Exercise Maple Flag XXXIX and form the Air Expeditionary Unit. Maple Flag is an annual international air combat exercise that attracts more than 5,000 participants from all over the globe, which engage in a simulated, 10-day air campaign. The exercise provides aircrews with realistic training in a modern simulated air combat environment. Maple Flag provides critically important training for Canadian and allied aircrews. Photo by WO Serge Peters, Air Public Affairs|
Here is the background provided by the RCAF on the history of “408 ‘Goose’ Squadron:”
On June 24, 1941, 408 Squadron (Sqn) was established as a bomber squadron with No. 5 Group Royal Air Force and was equipped with the Handley Page Hampden. After flying several other bomber aircraft in addition to the Hampden, 408 Sqn converted to the Handley Page Halifax – a four engine heavy bomber that could travel faster, further and carry more than three times the payload of the original Hampden. During the final years of the Second World War, 408 Sqn would again change aircraft, this time to the Lancaster Mk II heavy bomber. With Victory in Europe, 408 Sqn was disbanded on September 5, 1945.
Re-established in 1949 at Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Station Rockliffe, Ont., 408 Sqn took on many varying roles. Starting in 1949 the squadron used the Avro Lancaster Mk X to begin photographing and mapping in Canada’s North. In 1962 the Canadair T-33 Silver Star was added to 408 Sqn’s inventory. With the T-33 408 Sqn began to support the Army through aerial reconnaissance while continuing the mapping and photography task with the Lancaster. In 1964 the Lancaster was replaced the Douglas Dakota and the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar. With these new airframes 408 Sqn was retasked as a transport support and reconnaissance squadron and was moved to RCAF Station Rivers, Manitoba. After just one year, in 1965, the C-119s were replaced by the larger and more versatile Lockheed C-130 Hercules.
In 1970, 408 Sqn was again disbanded. Just nine months later, however, it was re-established in its current role as a tactical helicopter squadron at its current home, Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Namao (now CFB Edmonton), Alta. Initially 408 Sqn flew two airframes: the CH-135 Twin Huey and the CH-136 Kiowa, before reequipping with its current helicopter the CH-146 Griffon in 1996.
As a tactical helicopter squadron, 408 Sqn deployed to the Sinai Peninsula, Honduras, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and most recently the Philippines. The unit has also been heavily involved in domestic operations such as the floods in Manitoba and Calgary, forest fires throughout Western Canada, G8 summits, and the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.
Personnel from 408 Sqn were deployed to Afghanistan almost continually in some capacity from 2006 – 2011. Initially operating the CU-161 Sperwer unmanned aerial vehicle for six-month rotations, in 2008 the unit started deploying personnel to operate
CH-146 Griffon and CH-147 Chinook helicopters in support of the Canadian Helicopter Force (Afghanistan). As part of Canada’s Air Wing in Kandahar, 408 Sqn contributed regular rotations to support the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with personnel and equipment transport; reconnaissance; armed escort; and fire support. Given the high level of improvised explosive devices that posed a threat to ground-based transportation, 408 Sqn proved to be invaluable in helping keep Canadian and other International Security Assistance Force troops off dangerous roadways in Afghanistan.
The most recent foreign deployment of 408 Sqn was to the Philippines in 2013 after typhoon Haiyan devastated the nation. Food, assistance personnel, medical relief and infrastructure material were all made accessible to isolated population centers when roads and bridges had been destroyed.
Here at home, 408 Sqn’s continued support to Canadians has most recently included support to the flooding in Manitoba in spring 2014, the Saskatchewan wildfire in summer 2015 and the Fort McMurray forest fire in May 2016.