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Monday, September 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: Canada Wet Leases Mi-8s for Afghan Operations

MILITARY

Allied forces have been urging worldwide governments to send more attack and transport helicopters for years. Soldiers are being injured or killed by roadside bombs and without medevac helicopters and their attack escorts, many of the soldiers, who could have been flown to safety, are dying.

Canadian forces are not exempt from those deaths: According to Canada’s CBC News, 90 Canadian soldiers have been killed in and around the Kandahar Province in Afghanistan since their deployment to the region in 2002. It seems that a majority of them have been killed by roadside bombs.

To help ease the burden on the existing NATO pool of medium- and heavy-lift helos in the Afghanistan arena, the Canadian government will not wait for the 16 Chinooks Fs, which are expected to be operational in 2013. Instead, Canada is wet leasing six Russian-made, Mi-8s on an one-year contract worth up to $36 million. These are ready to be used in theater.

The Canadian government is also purchasing six used Chinook D models from the U.S., which, according to Canada’s Assistant Deputy Minister’s office, will be available by February 2009. The cost for this transaction, not to exceed $292 million, includes acquisition, initial logistics support, training and project management. "At this exact minute, with respect to CH-47D Chinook helicopter training and Canadian aircrew, we have one instructor pilot (IP) CF exchange officer...two pilots on the IP course and two more starting [within a few days]." A major with the Canadian forces told R&W. "[There are] eight flight engineers and seven pilot candidates for the aircraft qualification course." Troops have been training at Fort Rucker, Ala. — By Rion Haley

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