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Canadian air force to map Afghanistan

Ping Monkey

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Canadian air force to map Afghanistan

By Matthew Fisher, Canwest News service    April 6, 2009

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — The Canadian air force is to digitally map southern Afghanistan and especially the province of Kandahar for NATO and Afghan pilots and ground troops fighting the Taliban and al-Qaida.

An Aurora reconnaissance aircraft with highly sophisticated sensors and cameras is to be dispatched to the region in the coming weeks to undertake what will be a major mapmaking project, according to Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier, who is responsible for all Canadian forces overseas.

"The aim is to have the best situational awareness we can have," Gauthier said in an interview during his last visit to Afghanistan before leaving his position as commander of CEFCOM next month. "This superimposes a layer to do with the physical battle space that allows us to understand the operating environment."

The state-of-the-art mapping project is to be "focused on the south and principally Kandahar and, of course, we will share it with anybody who will be operating with us," the general said.

Parts of Afghanistan have very poor maps that are old and out of date, which has sometimes been a concern for battle commanders here trying to plan operations and soldiers who use them at the tactical level.

"There is a need for us to have an up-to-date digital picture of the ground in Afghanistan and a smart young sergeant mapper, which is an old term that no longer applies because we use 21st-century technology, urged us to bring this technology into operations in order to provide a digital map view of the terrain in Afghanistan. "

Auroras last served in the area during the winter of 2001-02 when they supported maritime reconnaissance operations for half a dozen Canadian warships which were rushed to the Arabian Sea after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

The Aurora crews that will be flying over southern Afghanistan will be from bases in Nova Scotia and British Columbia.

They join Chinook and Griffon helicopters and crews that have been flying here in support of Canadian and other NATO forces since the beginning of this year. Canada's air wing in Afghanistan, which numbers about 490 men and women, includes technicians who help operate unmanned aerial surveillance drones that have been leased from an Israeli defence company as well as several crews which have been flying CC-130 Hercules aircraft here for several years.

The long-awaited arrival of Canada's helicopters have "added a lot of flexibility for commanders," said Col. Chris Coates, the air wing boss.

"The air force is engaged. It is doing its share," Gauthier said. "Honest to God, I could not have imagined four months ago where they are today, with the Chinook in particular."

The general said Chinooks had been used "to deliver combat troops to the battlefield to conduct the largest scale operation done to date in Afghanistan" and Chinooks had been been used "to support precision strike operations by our special forces," an unusual declaration since the military rarely speaks publicly about Joint Task Force 2, Canada's special forces unit.

Asked whether Canada would finally send CF-18 Hornet attack aircraft to join the British, Belgian and French fighter jets now based here, as the fighter pilot community at home has badly wanted, Gauthier said: "There is no intention to deploy CF-18s to Afghanistan at this time."

With the imminent arrival of more than 100 helicopters from the U.S. army's 82 Aviation brigade, as well as scores of U.S. Marine Corps helicopters, air movements in the south, where commanders have complained of never having nearly enough chopper support, are "to increase phenomenally," Coates said. This would require a re-orientation of air assets currently in-theatre, including those flown by Canada, he said.

According to statistics provided Monday by Canada's air wing, during the first three months of this year its Chinooks and Griffons in Afghanistan flew nearly 4,000 passengers and about 90,000 kilograms of cargo.

The Hercules transports, which are normally based at Trenton, Ont., moved 38,000 passengers last year and lifted nearly five million kilograms of cargo.

Original link:  http://www.canada.com/news/Canadian+force+Afghanistan/1469223/story.html
 

Colin Parkinson

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Interesting story. One should remember that it was the RCAF that mapped most of Canada during the interwar period, so a noble tradition continues, although I bet they are glad not to be doing it in Curtiss flying boats and Blackburn Sharks

http://rcaf.com/aircraft/patrol/hs2l/index.php?name=HS-2L

http://www.rcaf.com/aircraft/misc/vedette/index.php?name=Vedette

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackburn_Shark

 

geo

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Accurate modern maps are just one of the tools needed for nation building.

A great legacy project for the people of Afghanistan
 

Signalman150

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In addition to Colin P's comment on the historical aspect of this endeavor; I remember my father talking about spending a great deal of time in such sun-and-fun capitals of Canada as Baker Lake, whilst the post-war (i.e. WWII) RCAF mapped Canada's far north.  I believe they used Lancasters for the job.
 

Michael OLeary

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CDN Aviator said:
As oposed to what ?

Flying into resort towns.  Having "break-downs." Living in five-star hotels while you wait for the new bucket of prop-wash to be delivered from Greenwood. Hanging out with stewardesses airline attendants.  You know, all those reasons why you guys keep telling us the Air Force is so great.    >:D

 
A

aesop081

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Here i thought that busting drug trafficers in central america was a "value added" tasking.

Would spending time in the popular resort of  Shemya going after the driftneters who are single-handedly destroying the west coast fishery count as "value added" ?

 

Fishbone Jones

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CDN Aviator said:
Here i thought that busting drug trafficers in central america was a "value added" tasking.

Would spending time in the popular resort of  Shemya going after the driftneters who are single-handedly destroying the west coast fishery count as "value added" ?

You really, really got to take a pill Pat.  ;) You're as strung as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. ;D
 

rampage800

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This is good but maybe a bit of window dressing really. To think that detailed maps of Kandahar don't already exist that are capable of generating Cat 1-3 coords would probably be a bit of an oversight. Maybe its to generate maps that are releasable to all nations might have been a better way to word it.
 
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