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New York Air National Guard aircraft support Canadian arctic training exercise

By New York National Guard | April 6, 2015

SCOTIA, N.Y. - Two New York Air National Guard LC-130 aircraft and 30 Airmen assigned to the 109th Airlift Wing depart Stratton Air National Guard Base here Monday for a 16-day mission supporting the Canadian Forces Operation NUNALIVUT 2015 in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada.

The LC-130s, nicknamed the "Skibird," are the only American military aircraft equipped to land on snow and ice.

The American Airmen will support the Canadian Forces mission by carrying supplies and will also practice landing on sea-ice runways, said Col. Shawn Clouthier, the wing commander.

The 109th supported the Canadian Forces Operation Nunalivit 2014 last April in the Resolute Bay area. Two aircraft and 40 Airmen took part in that mission.

The 109th Airlift Wing flies missions in the Antarctic and in Greenland in support of National Science Foundation research. Supporting the Nunalivit exercise allows the New York Air National Guard Airmen to further refine the skills they need to operate in the polar regions and to practice working with Canadian Forces members, Clouthier explained.

Operation NUNALIVUT is an annual exercise the Canadian Forces have been conducting since 2007.

According to the Canadian ForcesA the exercise:

  • Asserts Canada's sovereignty over its northernmost regions;
  • Demonstrates the ability to operate in the harsh winter environment in remote areas of the High Arctic; and
  • Enhances its capability to respond to any situation in the Canada's North.

The exercise also allows the Canadian Armed Forces to provide meaningful support to scientific research in the Arctic, and to demonstrate interoperability in the High Arctic with military allies and other Canadian government institutions, according to the Canadian Department of National Defense.

The Canadian Forces Joint Task Force North will deploy 200 Canadian Forces personnel in support of this year's exercise. This includes soldiers from the Third Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Royal Canadian Navy divers from both Pacific and Atlantic fleets; and airmen and airwomen from across the Royal Canadian Air Force, including Yellowknife-based 440 (Transport) Squadron.

During the operation, the Canadian Rangers from the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group will guide and mentor southern troops and provide predator control to deployed elements. The Canadian Rangers are a component Canada's reserve forces made up of native Canadians with experience operating in the Arctic.

During the exercise, underwater archeologists from Parks Canada will team up with the Royal Canadian Navy Divers to investigate the remains of the HMS Erebus. The Erebus was one of two ships assigned to the Franklin Expedition mounted by the British Royal Navy to explore the Arctic in the 1840s. Both ships vanished and all 130 members of the expedition died in what is one of the most famous disasters in Arctic exploration.