Air Assault Training Over Petawawa
Canadian and American forces took part in a large multi-national air assault training exercise at Garrison Petawawa, Ontario
Royal Canadian Air Force, July 05, 2016 - By Captain Martin Bergeron - The sky over Garrison Petawawa, Ontario, was a busy place May 8–16, 2016, as 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron led Viking Talon, a large multi-national air assault training exercise.
The exercise involved 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, based at Petawawa, Ontario; 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, based at St-Hubert, Quebec; 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (3RCR); and elements of the 82nd Airborne Division and 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
A 10-helicopter formation overflew the Ottawa Valley for the first time, carrying hundreds of Canadian and American soldiers. The formation comprised two of 450 Squadron’s newly acquired Canadian CH-147F Chinooks; two CH-146 Griffons from 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron based in St-Hubert, Quebec; along with two American CH-47 Chinooks, two UH-60M Black Hawks and two HH-60M medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) Black Hawks from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During the week-long exercise, the helicopters transported paratroopers from 3RCR and the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, a sub-unit of the 82nd Airborne Division.
Viking Talon was the latest in a series of bilateral training exercises designed to strengthen interoperability between the two long-standing allies. 450 Squadron and 3rd Battalion (General Support Aviation Battalion), a sub-unit of 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, (known as 3-82 GSAB) recently became partner units working to foster greater interoperability between Canada and the U.S. The purpose of the exercise was to ensure the partnered militaries could plan and execute joint/combined air assaults.
“We proved that we can work seamlessly with our allies on missions around the world,” said Major Robert Tyler, officer commanding 450 Squadron’s A Flight, at the end of this second joint/combined exercise. “It doesn’t matter who we are flying with, we are responding and providing the same effect on the battlefield.”
As the 1 Wing Kingston, Ontario, tactical heavy-lift capability, 450 Squadron is training toward full operational capability. Viking Talon was a great opportunity to update, validate and employ 1 Wing tactical standard operating procedures with a view to smoothly integrating with coalition allies.
The exercise included air mobile assaults and para-drops to insert soldiers within a non-combatant evacuation operation framework. The planning and execution of the two company-level air assaults were the highlight of the exercise, and a great success.
Concurrently, MEDEVAC training was conducted between 2 Field Ambulance, from Garrison Petawawa, Ontario, and the 3-82nd GSAB’s MEDEVAC Black Hawks. During the final event, the Americans demonstrated the aviation delivered ground refueling (“Fat Cow”) capability, which is the delivery of fuel from their CH-47 Chinooks’ internal tanks to other helicopters..
Ultimately, the success of Viking Talon was truly the result of a team effort, with remarkable behind-the-scenes work carried out by the maintainers and logistics support personnel.
The exercise was a significant event for 450 Squadron in its progression toward being fully operational.
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