RCAF participates in search and rescue exercise in Alaska

News Release / August 25, 2016

National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Personnel from Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) squadrons are participating in Arctic Chinook, a significant search and rescue (SAR) exercise taking place in the vicinity of Nome, Alaska, from August 22 to 25, 2016.

The exercise is led by the U.S. Coast Guard and Alaska Command and the exercise is open to Arctic Council nations. Participants are exercising various elements of the “Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic” including interoperability, cooperation, and information sharing of SAR services as they respond to a mass rescue operation scenario in the Arctic.

RCAF participation in the exercise includes:

  • A CC-130H Hercules aircraft from 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron, based at 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia
  • A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, based at 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia
  • Search and rescue technicians (SAR techs) from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron based at 17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba, as well as additional support personnel.


“As activity in the Arctic increases, the Royal Canadian Air Force is working with our partners to enhance our vigilance, our capabilities, and the skill sets of our airwomen and airmen to protect and save lives. Exercises such as Arctic Chinook are instrumental to maintaining our capabilities for search and rescue response in the North in collaboration with our arctic neighbours.”

- Brigadier-General David Lowthian, acting commander
1 Canadian Air Division

Quick Facts

Air search and rescue is a core RCAF capability and the RCAF is tasked to execute the aeronautical SAR mission through a combination of aircraft and highly-trained personnel.

Participation in multinational excises such as Arctic Chinook is essential to facilitate the RCAF’s ability to work collaboratively and effectively with our Allies and with like-minded nations.

The “Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic” is a legally-binding instrument negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council that coordinates life-saving, international maritime, and aeronautical SAR coverage and response among the Arctic States across an area of nearly 21 million square kilometres.

Canadian participation includes aircrew, support personnel, and observers. Four other nations are also represented with observers at Exercise Arctic Chinook, including Denmark, Finland, Norway and Russia.

In May 2011, Canada and the seven other Arctic Council member states (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States) signed "The Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic" in Nuuk, Greenland.

The Arctic SAR Agreement builds upon previous United Nations and other agreements addressing SAR to strengthen cooperation between the Arctic states and to improve the way the Arctic Council members respond to emergencies in the Arctic.


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         - Manage air traffic control and electronics systems
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