427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron
Canada Department of National Defence, December 05, 2011 - 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron (427 SOAS) challenges both its personnel and the CH-146 Griffon helicopter to fly a wide range of missions under any conditions to deliver dedicated special operations aviation effects for Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM). The CH-146 Griffon is a common sight around Canadian Army bases across the country; but in October 2011, the Griffon could be seen flying off the coast of Halifax, N.S.
The Griffon was there as a part of a maritime counter-terrorism (MCT) training exercise for aircrew and support personnel from 427 SOAS.
427 SOAS is a Royal Canadian Air Force unit under operational command of CANSOFCOM; its primary mission is domestic counter-terrorism.
This MCT training was an important exercise for the unit; a new group of pilots and flight engineers became fully qualified 427 SOAS flight crew after this exercise.
“The MCT exercise is the culminating exercise for those on the advanced special operations aviation course,” said the commanding officer of 427 Squadron, Lieutenant-Colonel John Alexander.
“If you can hit a ship that is 100 kilometres out to sea, at night, at various sea states, hold your hover and get the troops on that target, on time and synchronized with other forces, that’s about the hardest thing that we are going to ask them to do.”
MCT operations include offensive and defensive measures taken to prevent, deter and respond to terrorism in the maritime environment.
Due to its complex nature, maritime counter-terrorism operations require a high level of expertise and specialized equipment to effectively and safely insert, fight and extract from a target area, such as a ship.
“MCT takes everything that we do and takes it a little further,” said one experienced pilot with the squadron, who cannot be identified for security reasons.
On this training exercise, 427 SOAS personnel practiced tracking and intercepting a vessel of interest, approaching a vessel, both at anchor and under way, inserting troops via rappel onto the ship and landing on the deck of the ship for extraction.
Since its primary mission is domestic counter-terrorism, 427 SOAS must be ready to rapidly deploy anywhere in Canada or abroad and fly under any conditions to deliver special operations forces operators to a target. Accordingly, the training undertaken by the squadron includes flying in a wide range of environments, from forested, desert, or mountainous areas, to urban areas with the challenges of man-made lighting and over water in a maritime environment.
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427 Squadron Canadian Armed Forces