The reactivation of 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, which is to be the home of the Canadian Forces’ Chinook Medium-to-Heavy Lift Helicopter, was formalized on May 2, 2012, by an official Canadian Forces order.
As confirmed on May 2, 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, under the command of 1 Wing and based in Petawawa, Ontario, will be home to 15 F-Model Chinooks – more modern and capable versions of the D-Model Chinooks recently flown in Afghanistan. 450 Squadron was also the designation of the original RCAF unit which operated Chinook helicopters until the early 1990s, at which time these aircraft were phased out.
“Whether protecting the lives of our soldiers deployed overseas or responding to disasters like floods or ice storms or forest fires here at home, the powerful Chinook will help enable the Canadian Forces to carry out the challenging missions we ask of them,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. “The Canada First Defence Strategy is concretely increasing the Canadian Forces’ deployability, mobility and flexibility.”
“Delivering on these helicopters is our commitment to putting the safety of our women and men in uniform first.” stated Cheryl Gallant, Member of Parliament for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke. “The presence of the 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron also means a tremendous economic boost to the Upper Ottawa Valley.”
With a heavy lift capability to carry up to 40 personnel or 11 363 kilograms of cargo, the F-Model Chinook helicopters and crews of 450 Squadron will increase the operational capability of 1 Wing Kingston, enabling it to respond to the needs of Canadians at home and abroad. The new F-Model Chinook will be able to deploy independently, including to the High Arctic, in part because of its larger fuel tanks.
“I am also very pleased to name Lieutenant-Colonel Duart Townsend as the first Commanding Officer of the reborn 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron,” said Lieutenant-General Andre Deschamps, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. “I know that LCol Townsend will lead this historic unit with the pride and professionalism that he has clearly shown throughout his extensive experience as a tactical helicopter pilot and staff officer. In fact, he was the very last Chinook pilot to be trained as part of the Canadian Forces’ original 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron before it was disbanded in 1996.”
The first aircraft is expected to be delivered to Petawawa in June 2013, and 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron is expected to employ approximately 400 military personnel by 2016. The numerical designation of 450 was originally given to 450 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War, which flew under that number honourably from 1941 until 1945. Despite the fact that the Canadian numbers were from 400 to 449, an administrative error caused the number to be re-designated to a Canadian Heavy Transport Squadron. Despite the strange circumstances, the RAAF and CF later met and were united by friendship, experience and the commonalities of military service.
An appropriate formal ceremony will be held in the future to celebrate the official reactivation of 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron.
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