The largest aircraft ever to serve with the Canadian Forces (CF) made its first visit to 19 Wing Comox this past week. The Boeing C-17 (officially designated the CC-177 Globemaster III in Canada) visit was two fold; to deliver parts for 407 Squadron's Aurora aircraft and allow Comox personnel to perform some training and hands on experience of Canada's newest plane.
The role of the CC-177 is to provide strategic and tactical airlift of troops and oversized combat equipment from coast to coast and to anywhere in the world. Whether it's a domestic or international crisis or supporting our troops in Afghanistan, the C-17 can fly over 5,000 nautical miles and deliver a maximum load of 160,000 pounds and land on unpaved runways as short as 3500 feet, day or night. This transport offers a new capability for the CF that is in high demand. The C-17 is operated by a crew of three - pilot, co-pilot and loadmaster and is a state of the art, fly by wire aircraft that is equipped with an advanced digital avionics system and attributes that are usually common to a fighter jet including a Heads Up Display (HUD), the ability to fly using Night Vision Goggles (NVG's) while operating in a hostile enviroment and a small joystick for a flight control instead of a bulky yoke that is common to large aircraft. The pilot's that fly the Globemaster say it is a dream to fly. C-17 pilot, Capt Jeff Jackson previously flew the CC-130 Hercules and is very impressed with his new mount, "All the information that I need during flight is easily displayed through my HUD and the power and handling of the C-17 is awesome." The Aircraft Commander was Major Jean Maisonneuve, he is one of the most experienced pilot's in the CC-177 community as he spent four years (2001-2005) on exchange with USAF flying the C-17. He explained that the C-17 offers a completely new capability to Canada, "We can carry four times the payload of the C-130 Hercules, twice the distance operating from the same unpaved runways as the smaller Hercules."
The C-17 entered service with the CF on August 12th and since then has quickly amassed over 130 hours of flight time. It's first mission was to Kingston, Jamaica delivering 30 tons of relief supplies to victims of Hurricane Dean. This humunitarian aid was a prime example of the flexibility the C-17 offers the CF by rapidly deploying to priority missions anywhere in the world.
In its first five weeks of operations, the Globemaster has also flown mission's to Germany, Greenland, Alaska and twice to Kandahar, Afghanistan.
The CF Globemaster landing in Kandahar adorned in Canadian markings was a huge morale boost for the CF troops in Afghanistan. It was also the first time a CF aircraft flew a mission using Night Vision Goggles (NVG's) while flying into Afghanistan.
177701 is the first of four C-17's that Canada has ordered ( second will arrive mid October and the other two delivered by the middle of 2008). All CC-177's will be operated by 429 "Bison" Transport Squadron based at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario. Located in the center of Canada, this enables the C-17 to quickly deploy to anywhere in Canada or overseas.
The tempo of the operations for the CC-177 has no signs of slowing down. The Globemaster is not two months old and has already proven its worth, it has been regarded as the most versatile and best all round airlift aircraft in the world. Operating with other allied nations including the Royal Air Force (5), Royal Austrailian Air Force (4), USAF (190) and more nations seriously considering to purchase the C-17, demonstrates the importance of strategic airlift to today's air forces. Whether it is moving helicopters, troops and tanks to hot spots in the world or humanitarian relief to any nation in need - the CC-177 will be the aircraft to transport anything, anywhere at anytime.
I would like to thank PAO Captain Cheryl Condly, 2Lt Alexandre Cadieux and the crew of 701 .