Canada is all set to soar as a little sparrow hawk to help the great Eagle to our south. Meanwhile the Afghan Air Force which is actually going to get some new planes will still be smaller than during the Soviet Era even in 2016 when all the new planes will have been delivered. Meanwhile the Afghans limp around in Soviet era dinosaurs for the most part. The Canadians are even a market for drones sort of a foreign stimulus package for US military suppliers.
This is from CTV.
Canadian Forces launch new air wing in Afghanistan
Updated Sun. Dec. 7 2008 4:28 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
A newly-launched air wing has significantly increased the capabilities of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan by reducing their reliance on ground transport, say Canadian military officials.
Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson, commander of Task Force Kandahar, said the Joint Task Force (Afghanistan) Air Wing has given Canadian Forces the kind of operational air support that has not been seen in decades.
"For the air force, this is extremely significant," he told The Canadian Press.
"Now we're not talking about an individual unit which would be the army equivalent of a battalion. This is the equivalent of committing a brigade to overseas operations. I don't think this has occurred since the Korean time (war)."
The air wing includes four units made up of 450 troops and has six CH-47D Chinook helicopters, eight CH-146 Griffon helicopters, six civilian Mi-8 helicopters and various unmanned surveillance aircraft included in its inventory.
The Canadian Forces had C-130 Hercules transport planes in service prior to the development of the new air wing.
Thomson estimated that the air wing has "doubled or tripled" the capability of Canadian troops, by lessening their reliance on road convoys which are at continual risk of bombings and other ground-based attacks.
Most of the 100 Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan have died from road-side bombs as they travelled in convoys, while British and U.S. troops rely on helicopter transport.
The Chinook helicopters will be of particular benefit for moving troops in and out of various battlefield hotspots, officials said.
Air Wing Commander Col. Christopher Coates said "it has been considerable time since the Canadian Forces has operated Chinook helicopters and their return is a significant increase in capability which our airmen and women will provide to the battlefield here in Afghanistan."
"While we have operated helicopters on deployed operations more or less continuously for 25 years, this deployment to Afghanistan is the first to a combat theatre," he added.
Thompson said Royal Marines had been deployed into battle by Chinook helicopters and the same will now be done with Canadian Forces.
"There's no reason why, from this point forward, why we can't insert Canadian infantry using the Chinooks," Thompson said.
"All of this is going to put the squeeze more and more on the Taliban."
The hefty Griffon helicopters, used most often for search and rescue operations, as well as evacuations, weigh nearly 5,400 kilograms each, but can still reach high speeds of up to 260 kilometres per hour. Each one can transport up to 13 people per flight.
Each Chinook helicopter, by comparison, can carry more than 40 soldiers and their battle equipment.
The Mi-8s used by the air wing are piloted by civilians and will be used for transport purposes.
Because the Canadian Forces have a pooling agreement with other NATO forces, the Canadians will not always have priority access to their aircraft.
Thompson, however, said that Canadian Forces can always call on "allied assets" for assistance if need be.
With files from The Canadian Press