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Royal Canadian Air Force Airmen take part in Combat Archer Jan. 25 at Tyndall Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Attila Papp)
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Canadian Air Force takes part in Combat Archer

Posted 2/8/2012   Updated 2/8/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Rachelle Elsea
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/8/2012 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- Beginning in early January 150 Royal Canadian Air Force personnel arrived at Tyndall Air Force base in support of Combat Archer.

"Combat Archer provides operationally representative missile shoot profiles wherein the weapon system (aircraft and missile) and personnel can be evaluated to ensure maximum effectiveness," said Colonel McLeod. "Maintenance personnel, armorers and pilots can hone their skills, engineers can validate software and hardware functionality, and evaluation staff can provide recommendations for the improvement of tactics, techniques, procedures and the weapon system itself."

The four-week long deployment is composed of a two-week non-combat related training and two weeks of combat exercises. This exercise has been running for decades with full participation from the RCAF.

"The majority of personnel come from 409th Tactical Fighter Squadron, based in Cold Lake, Alberta, however we also have personnel from 1st Air Maintenance Squadron, 22nd Canadian Forces Health Services Centre, 11th Military Police Flight, 4th Wing Telecommunications and Information System Squadron, the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment and the Directorate of Aerospace Engineering and Project Management," said Lieutenant Colonel Daniel McLeod, 409th Tactical Fighter Squadron commander. "Also joining us here at Tyndall is a detachment from the 435th Transport and Rescue Squadron, providing tactical air-to-air refueling. The roles include pilots, engineers, maintenance technicians, armorers, logisticians, a medic, a military police, a chaplain and more."

The 409th TFS is one of Canada's two operational fighter squadrons.

"The 409th TFS is a strike fighter squadron that specializes in self-escort air interdiction, close air support, and strike coordinated armed reconnaissance," said Colonel McLeod. "They also support domestic operations such as North American Aerospace Defense Command with aircraft and personnel on high alert 24/7/365, while simultaneously maintaining a short notice to move posture in order to respond to international operations in support of North Atlantic Treaty Organization and our Allies."

The Canadians brought several assets with them in order to execute the mission.

"The 409th TFS has brought 12 CF18 Hornets, 10 single-seat combat aircraft and 2 two-seat trainers," said Colonel McLeod. "Canada operates 77 CF18s, roughly 50 of which are single seaters. The 435th Transport and Rescue Squadron has brought one C130T. Canada operates many C130s; C130Hs configured for air-to-air refuelling, transport and search and rescue, and new C130Js used exclusively for transport."

The RCAF is kept busy throughout Combat Archer.

"There are two types of days, a shoot day and a non-shoot day," said Colonel McLeod. "On a typical shoot day, the maintenance and armorers prepare the jets, which includes verifying all the jets and missile launchers are serviceable, delivering the missiles to the jets, loading the missiles, and launching and recovering the jets post missile shoot, turning the jets for a second launch, generally a Dissimilar Aircraft Combat Training mission, finishing up the day with necessary maintenance work to ensure all jets are ready for the next day. A non-shoot day is very similar, the main difference is that missiles are not loaded or fired."

But, the pilots are not the only Airmen with their hands full.

"As for Aircrew, a typical day consists of mission planning, coordination briefs with adversary formations, Ground-Control Intercept, Weapon System Evaluation Program staff and chase pilots if conducting a shoot, formation briefing, flight, and debriefings."

There are many days when the Canadians and American Airmen work closely together, allowing huge windows of opportunity.

"Working alongside other nations provides the opportunity for learning, developing, teaching and camaraderie," said Colonel McLeod. "There are rarely struggles, only differences, and they can always be overcome with open and honest communication."

This week the Canadians will return home.

"Our hosts at the 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron, the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group and Tyndall AFB in general have again outdone themselves with the support to our deployment, our missile shots and our personnel," said Colonel McLeod. "As always, the USAF has provided the RCAF with an outstanding opportunity to train and expand our Fighter Force capability."

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