ARCHIVED - Ministers MacKay and Paradis Announce Equipment for Canadian Forces that Will Strengthen National Sovereignty

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News Release / August 7, 2008 / Project number: NR – 08.047

OTTAWA – The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada and Secretary of State for Agriculture, today announced another important step by the Government of Canada to strengthen national sovereignty and ensure that the Canadian Forces have the tools they need to do their job safely, swiftly and effectively. This latest measure is the acquisition of helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

“This announcement is yet another example of how this government is providing the men and women of the Canadian Forces the tools and equipment they need to do the jobs asked of them,” said Minister MacKay. “Ultimately, these capabilities coupled with other key acquisitions by this government will be invaluable to our military leaders in the protection of Canadian interests in our sovereign territory and abroad. For years, our Canadian Forces have been in the unfortunate position of not having an option other than hitching rides with allies in order to move personnel in countries like Afghanistan. Those days are over.”

Coupled with the acquisition of C-17 strategic lift, Hercules tactical lift and Chinook F medium - to heavy - lift helicopters, the acquisition of Chinook D, commercial charter helicopters and UAV’s will help ensure that the Canadian Forces have the air assets necessary to undertake any mission asked of them.

The Canada First Defence Strategy clearly laid out the types of missions Canadians expect our Canadian Forces to undertake. These capabilities will ensure that Canada is able to play a leadership role abroad and make a meaningful contribution to international security while also protecting Canada’s national sovereignty.

“These projects demonstrate the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the men and women of the Canadian Forces have the resources and equipment they require,” said Minister Paradis. “By actively procuring helicopters and UAVs to be available within stringent timelines, we are helping to support urgent operational requirements in Afghanistan, while providing best value for Canadian taxpayers.”

Additional helicopter lift capacity and more UAVs for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance were conditions set out in the March 13th parliamentary motion to extend Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan until 2011. Obtaining these additional air resources was also one of the recommendations of the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan, headed by the Honourable John Manley.

“The addition of these resources will provide greater safety and security to our troops in Afghanistan, with UAVs acting as the eyes in the skies for commanders” said General Walt Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff. “The helicopters will allow commanders the flexibility to reduce ground-based resupply convoys and more easily reach remote locations in challenging environments where they could be at risk of ambushes, land mines and improvised explosive devices.”

Canada will be securing the following resources:

Helicopters:

  • The lease of six commercial helicopters to address immediate needs. The one-year contract will be valued at up to $36 million, depending on flight hours logged, with renewable 1 year options available.
  • The purchase of six used Chinook D model helicopters – already in theatre – from the US Government. These will be available for operations by February 2009. The cost for the equipment acquisition, plus initial logistics support, training and project management costs will not exceed $292 million. These figures are currently being finalized by the two governments.

UAVs:

  • The procurement of a small Scan Eagle UAV to address immediate needs over the next nine months. The contract is valued at up to $14 million, depending on flight hours logged.
  • The two year lease of a Heron UAV tactical system that will be delivered by early 2009. MacDonald Dettwiler Associates (MDA) of Vancouver, BC has been awarded the two-year, $95 million contract.

A long term UAV solution is currently being developed that will include domestic and deployed operational UAV capabilities.

The additional helicopters and UAVs for Afghanistan will require up to 250 personnel to support and operate the equipment.

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