Supporting and strengthening our Canadian Forces has been a priority for our Government since taking office in 2006. Our Government understands that our Canadian Forces require the right tools to do their job safely, swiftly, and effectively to strengthen our sovereignty. We have done this through the recent acquisition of helicopters and Unarmed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
On August 07, the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, announced that Canada would be securing the lease of six commercial helicopters to address immediate needs, as well as the purchase of six used Chinook D model helicopters. These helicopters will be available for operations by February 2009.
Our Government has also procured a small Scan Eagle UAV, to address immediate needs of the Canadian Forces over the next nine months. Furthermore, our Government has secured a two-year lease of a Heron UAV tactical system that will be delivered by early 2009. A long-term UAV solution is currently being developed that will include domestic and deployed operational UAV capabilities. The acquisition of UAVs will help ensure that our Canadian Forces have the air assets required to undertake any mission asked of them, while allowing Canada to play a leadership role abroad by making a meaningful contribution abroad and protecting Canada’s national sovereignty.
Additional helicopter lift capacity and more UAVs for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance were conditions set out in the March 13th parliamentary motion to extend Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan until 2011. These additional air resources were also one of the recommendations of the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan, headed by the Honourable John Manley.
The helicopters will allow commanders the flexibility to reduce ground-based resupply convoys and more easily reach remote locations in challenging environments where they could be at risk of ambushes, land mines, and improvised explosive devices.
These recent investments in our Canadian Forces are invaluable to our military leaders and will not only significantly assist in protecting Canadian sovereignty, but will allow Canada to play an important leadership role abroad. Our Government takes these matters very seriously and will continue to deliver results and the support our Canadian Forces require and deserve.