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Tue, Nov 21, 2006

Canada Asks For Aircraft Ahead Of US Military

Will Increase Presence In Afghanistan

A move by Canada's National Defense to "jump the line" and take delivery of new helicopters and transport aircraft before the US military may be just the ticket to bolster Canada's presence in Afghanistan.

"It's being given serious consideration," a Canadian Defense Department source told The Canadian Press.

Canada wants its new Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transports and CH-47 Chinook helicopters as quickly as possible, to support its troops fighting against Taliban forces in Afghanistan. For years, the Canadian army has been unable to mobilize its forces due to a lack of such aircraft.

A spokesman for the Canadian Air Force would not confirm or deny the request to move its orders ahead of those from the US military... but the Defense Department has already sent pilots to the US to begin flight training on the C-17. A similar arrangement for Chinook crews is still being negotiated.

"What I can tell you is that we're currently in contract negotiations, trying to get as aggressive a delivery schedule as we can for the aircraft," said Captain Jim Hutcheson.

As it stands now, Canada will receive its first C-17s by late 2008, with Chinooks arriving in 2012. If Canada is allowed to 'jump the line,' it would receive its first few Globemasters by June of 2007.

It's unclear how much sooner Canada would receive its CH-47 helos.

FMI: www.forces.gc.ca/site/index.html

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