An update on the Royal Canadian Air Force

Transcript / Speech / March 8, 2012

On Feb. 27, 2012, the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lieutenant-General André Deschamps, appeared before the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence to update committee members on the missions, activities and future plans of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Here is the text of his formal remarks.

Our mission is to provide the Canadian Forces with relevant, responsive and effective air power to meet the defence challenges of today and into the future.

Over the past 12 months or more, the RCAF has been tested in its ability to fulfill that mission.  I am pleased to report that the men and women of the RCAF have passed the test with flying colours.

Delivering excellence in operations is my top priority.

Our recent missions in support of Canadian government priorities have circled the globe.

Most recently, Operation Mobile – our participation in the NATO-led mission to protect the people of Libya – tested our readiness as never before, as we deployed our CF-18 fighters fewer than 24 hours after the United Nations passed Resolution 1973.

The effect delivered by our CF-18s, Airbus and Hercules tankers, and our Auroras – which were deployed for the very first time in ground surveillance and targeting support – was simply outstanding.

Our success brought credit to the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Canadian Forces and to Canada on the international stage.

During this period, our Air Wing in Afghanistan was still very much active. Our ability to integrate aviation, tactical airlift, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities ensured we delivered joint air effect to Canadian and Allied commanders under extremely demanding conditions.

In that operational Petri dish, we developed new doctrine – for example, air-to-air integration – that will shape our future capabilities such as the Air Expeditionary Capability located in Bagotville, Quebec.

Moreover, around the same time that Op Mobile’s combat mission began, we deployed CF-18s to Iceland to carry out an air policing mission under the auspices of NATO.

Last August, we deployed Griffon helicopters and crews to Jamaica to conduct search and rescue training, and to support the Jamaican Defence Force during hurricane season.

Closer to home, we responded to threats from Mother Nature. We evacuated residents of several northern communities in Ontario and in Saskatchewan who were threatened by wildfires – bringing more than 1,600 people to safety – and participated in flood relief and evacuation efforts in the Richelieu Valley and Manitoba.

At the same time, we continued to deliver on our domestic no-fail task of protecting Canadians from air threats through NORAD.

And we continued to fulfill our very demanding search and rescue mandate, responding to maritime and aeronautical incidents throughout our vast nation.

In this extremely busy and unprecedented period of activity, we delivered excellence in every area of responsibility.  I am so very proud of our personnel for their professionalism and resilience in the face of adversity.

My next priority is integration of our new fleets.

There is a tangible mood of excitement in the Air Force as we continue to bring into operation a modernized fleet, one that will bring tremendous benefits to the Canadian Forces and Canadians alike.

We have already seen the tactical and strategic advantage that our new Hercules and Globemaster airlifters have brought us, and I am looking forward to receiving the last of our 17 J-model Hercs later this spring.

In the next horizon, we will begin the testing and operational evaluation of the Cyclone, a world leading maritime surveillance and control helicopter.  We are actively tackling right now the ways and means to transition from the venerable Sea King to the new platform.

The new F-model Chinook medium-to heavy-lift helicopter – scheduled to arrive  in Petawawa in 2013 – will enhance the level of support we can provide to the Canadian Army and increase our capacity to respond to operational imperatives both at home and abroad.

We are working actively to prepare the RCAF to receive the F-35 Lightning II, which will introduce a new generation of fighters with the latest advances in the areas of sensors, data fusion and crew survivability. The F-35 will establish and maintain the RCAF on the leading edge of many new technologies and capabilities.

At the end of the day, our ability to deliver excellence in operations and face the opportunities and challenges associated with our fleet modernization program, rest on the shoulders of our airman and airwomen.  Our people are our strength.

As we look toward the future, it is clear that the RCAF will need to continue meeting a wide range of responsibilities.

We will continue to provide persistent air control of Canada’s airspace and approaches.

  • We will ensure our continuing mobility and ability to independently respond rapidly to domestic and international events.
  • We will continue be interoperable with our allies.
  • We will continue to be expeditionary – at home and abroad.
  • Our operations in the Canadian Arctic will grow in importance.
  • We will continue to provide one of the best search and rescue capabilities in the world.

The RCAF has proven its ability to deliver robust air power and – with our ongoing modernization – I am confident that we will continue to provide the high degree of service that Canadians expect from us, in a fiscally responsible manner.


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