Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Are 2 RCAF Chinooks Enough for Mali Mission?

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch
RCAF Chinook in action during training in the U.S. in 2016. Photo courtesy Canadian Forces. 
Melissa Kent, the CBC correspondent at the United Nations, has raised some interesting points in her article today about Canada’s contribution to the Mali mission.

Talks will take place today between UN and Canadian officials about the contribution.

Canada will supply two Chinook helicopters and four CH-146 Griffon helicopters to the UN mission to Mali. The UN, meanwhile, is expecting that two Chinooks will be available at any given time — which means Canada would need to send more than two to Mali, Kent points out. ”A helicopter is not like a car. They have planned maintenance,” a UN official familiar with the talks told Kent. ”Therefore, in order to have two available on a daily basis you would need three.”

At least three.

Whether the Canadian government acknowledges this remains to be seen.

The Mali mission was announced March 19 by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, with Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance standing by to answer questions. The “press conference” lasted probably a whole 10 minutes. There was no technical briefing to provide details of the mission.

At times, the press conference was an exercise in confusion, as Defence Watch has reported.

Sajjan announced Canada would send to the two Chinook helicopters and four armed Griffon helicopters to escort them. A few minutes later at the same news conference Vance said the number of helicopters being assigned to the Mali mission had still not been determined.

The government’s news release on the deployment indicated helicopters would be sent but did not provide specific numbers.

And Sajjan’s office later sent out a message to journalists, contradicting Vance by stating that ‘up to’ two Chinooks and four Griffons would be sent.

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