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The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) will provide much needed relief for Australian military aircraft supporting efforts to combat devastating brush fires that have burned more than 12.35 million acres.
A CC-177 Globemaster III from 429 Transport Squadron was scheduled to depart 8 Wing Trenton, Ont., on Jan. 28. It will pick up fire retardant in the United States before arriving at Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown later this week.
The expanded aircrew of about 15 personnel, most from 429 Squadron, will alleviate some of the demand on Australian military aircraft for about five days, allowing RAAF C-130J Hercules, C-17A Globemaster III, C-27J Spartan and a 737 Boeing business jet to support ongoing firefighting missions.
Among the airlift tasks for the CC-177 will be transporting Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopters back to New Zealand. The deployment is being conducted under Operation Renaissance, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) contribution to the federal government-led humanitarian assistance effort in Australia.
“On completion of airlift support, the aircraft will conduct follow-on tasks related to the Interim Fighter Capability Project under RCAF authority,” said a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence.
The Canadian government has opted to acquire 18 F/A-18 Hornet aircraft and associated spare parts as an interim measure to ensure the Air Force can continue to simultaneously meet its NATO and NORAD obligations while it selects and operationalizes a future fighter jet by the early 2030s. The first two former RAAF Hornets arrived at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., last February.
In addition to airlift support, the CAF is also sharing with Australia data gathered by the RADARSAT Constellation Mission under existing information-sharing agreements. “This data will support fire prediction modelling, and enhance the efficiency of firefighting efforts on the ground,” explained the DND spokesperson in an email.
“The CAF are always ready to support the Government of Canada’s efforts to provide support to countries affected by natural disasters … The CAF has a domestic and international reputation for excellence in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and is proud to put those skills to work in support of an ally in need.”
The assistance of the CC-177 is part of an ongoing effort to dowse hundreds of fires that have been burning across the country, some since bushfire season began in June.
The Australian government response has included the largest military deployment on the continent since the Second World War, according to Australian media. On Jan. 4, it took the unprecedented step of calling up 3,000 reservists. About 100 Canadian firefighters have joined the battle since December.