Exercise AMALGAM DART took place during April 25-27 and involved NORAD fighters as well as other aircraft simulating hostile threats to North American air sovereignty. During the exercise pilots were involved with scenerios that were simulated as well as live-fly events with the main focus on air intercepts. During these missions they would be using tanker support for air to air refueling that offered training in this critical area of tactical operations.
NORAD: North American Airspace Defence Command is a bi-national organization between Canada and the United States that is responsible for the North American airspace and has been in service since 1958. Exercises like Amalgam Dart offer valuable training between other NORAD aircraft and assets on the ground.
The CF-18's from Canada are the only fighters in the Canadian Forces inventory and have recently undergone significant upgrades. For Amalgam Dart, 441 "Silver Fox" Squadron from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta sent 55 personnel and 6 upgraded CF-18's to 19 Wing Comox to operate from their QRA Quick Reaction Alert hangers. Throughout the year, CF-18 Hornet's are forward deployed to Comox and other facilities across Canada to stand on QRA. At anytime, night or day, these Hornet's can respond to any hostile threat with that NORAD Region.
During my visit to 19 Wing Comox, I was given the rare opportunity to enter the QRA area to photograph and witness the scramble of four CF-18M fighters. This was the first time that the media has had the access to the Q's at Comox since 9-11. I have been fortunate to photograph CF-18's up close many times in the past during airshows and large scale NATO exercises but to have the opportunity to see these jets scramble from a highly restricted area on a military base brought in a whole new mood and feel to photographing Hornets.
The safety and security of North America's airspace remains the prime mission of CANR (Canadian NORAD Region) and CF personnel are on duty 24 hours a day protecting Canada's air sovereignty. With Canada's newly enhanced CF-18's and American F-15 Eagles, F-16 Vipers as well as AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft protecting the Continental and Alaskan Regions, you can be sure that the men and women at NORAD have us covered 24-7......"sleep well tonight, Canada."
I would like to thank NORAD PAO Captain Jennifer Faubert, 19 Wing PAO Captain Cheryl Robinson, 441 Squadron Captain John "PIGPEN" O'Neil and MP Cpl Scott Bushie for all their support during this rare photo op.