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The Royal Canadian Air Force’s 418 Squadron has been reformed as a search and rescue operational training unit.
And now 418 Search and Rescue Operational Training Squadron has a commanding officer — LCol Derek Jeffers.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan signed the Ministerial Organization Order authorizing the re-establishment of 418 Squadron on March 13, 2019. LGen Al Meinzinger, commander of the RCAF, and Jeffers co-signed the documents appointing Jeffers as commanding officer during a brief ceremony at 19 Wing Comox, B.C. — 418 Squadron’s new home — on July 11, 2019.
418 Search and Rescue Operational Training Squadron will fill an essential role for the aircrew and maintainers of the CC-295, the RCAF’s newest fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft. The squadron’s exceptional training methods and new simulators will improve search and rescue skills and harness the capabilities of the CC-295 aircraft, while forming the heart of the Search and Rescue Centre of Excellence at 19 Wing. The CC-295 aircraft has not yet received its official “popular” name, which will be announced in the coming months.
“I am very excited to play a part in bringing the CC-295 to Canada,” said Jeffers. “We have a very talented, hard-working team who are ensuring that this extremely capable aircraft will be utilized most effectively.
“The Buffalo and Hercules have done an incredible job providing Canada with search and rescue coverage over the years. The CC-295 is equipped with cutting-edge technologies that will enable us to provide an even higher level of search and rescue capability for the citizens of Canada.”
The squadron was originally formed as 418 (Intruder) Squadron on Nov. 15, 1941, under the Royal Air Force’s Fighter Command and 2nd Tactical Air Force. The squadron flew on night fighter and intruder operations in Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands throughout the Second World War. For its actions during the war it was awarded several Battle Honours: Defence of Britain, 1944; Fortress Europe, 1942-1944; Dieppe; France and Germany, 1944-1945; Normandy, 1944; Rhine.
The squadron remained in Germany after the war with British Air Forces of Occupation (Germany) until it was disbanded on Sept. 7, 1945. The squadron was subsequently reformed in Canada as 418 Fighter Bomber Squadron on April 15, 1946. The following decades saw several changes in its role, and it was ultimately re-designated as 418 Transport and Rescue Squadron on April 1, 1993. The squadron was again disbanded on June 22, 1994.
418 Search and Rescue Operational Training Squadron will begin operations in 2020. The CC-295 aircraft will be based in Comox; Winnipeg, Man.; Trenton, Ont.; and Greenwood, N.S.
“19 Wing will become the training SAR Centre of Excellence with the centralization of all search and rescue training programs,” noted Jeffers.