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CH-178

Drallib

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Back in 2008, Canadian forces operating in Afghanistan realised they lacked medium size strategic lift helicopters. They decided to purchase CH-47D Chinook from the US. While the transaction was negotiated and pushed through, Ottawa decided to lease several Chinook from the USAF... Unfortunately, jumping through all the administrative hoops took time and the Canadian troops in Afghanistan needed a good suitable helo asap...

That is how, very very quietly, the Royal Canadian Air Force leased 4 Mi-17V5 from Russia in 2009. They were renamed CH-178 in the Canadian inventory... The 4 units were first exclusively flown by the 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron (427 SOAS), but soon enough, they began flying both combat and transport missions with all Canadian units in Afghanistan. The Hip was considered well suited for Afghanistan harsh climate, dust and high altitude operations. Both pilots and maintenance crews appreciated the Mi-17 as a robust and capable platform which was also cheaper to acquire and operate than the Chinook.

Back then, several US units also operated the Hip in Afghanistan and so did the Afghan Armed Forces. Hell, 78 countries operate the Hip within their respective Armed Forces!

However, when pictures of Canadian operated Russian choppers appeared in the press in 2010, the government was embarrassed. What bemused the public and the press was not really that the RCAF was flying Russian platforms: Everyone agreed the Mi-17 is a good helicopter. What was underscored was that Canadian troops had been sent to Afghanistan without the required hardware to fulfill their mission. Only after they were deployed did the government started scrambling resources to rectify the situation. And all the way through this process and even after a solution had been found, did both the Government and the RCAF try and hide facts from the public.

The Canadian government carried on refusing to discuss the matter, even after the press published several articles on the subject, accusing the Canadian procurement system of being dysfunctional. Nevertheless, the four Canadian CH-178/Mi-17V5 continued to operate in Afghanistan until 2011 after which the lease was terminated.

The cover up continues to this day: you won't find any mentions of those helicopters on the 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron Wikipedia page or official website and it does not appear on the official history of this outfit and its listing of previously operated platforms...
-RBM.
 

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MilEME09

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I wish this was an April fools, but nope it happened, and goes to show how much of a reactionary type of mind set our successive governments have to defense matters.
 

dimsum

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Which article did the OP quote?  Or was it his/her own writing?

Just curious so I can read some more about it.  I saw them in the flesh at KAF.
 

dapaterson

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Dimsum said:
Which article did the OP quote?  Or was it his/her own writing?

Just curious so I can read some more about it.  I saw them in the flesh at KAF.

Looks like it originated on Facebook about a year ago.

https://www.facebook.com/defensionemwarbible/posts/canadian-ch-178back-in-2008-canadian-forces-operating-in-afghanistan-realised-th/638841463293174/
 

Good2Golf

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Drallib, please note that the Milnet.ca Guidelines require posters to include links to quoted material.
• You will properly attribute any quotes to the appropriate author or speaker.

As well, while not a hard requirement per the guidelines, it is considered good form to provide some of your own text in the post to provide context or insight into the quotation, not just a straight quote with no other information added.  This is why my quotation of your post is devoid of anything, because the quote function removes nested quotation material by default...nothing there but someone else’s (unattributed) material.

Regards

Milnet.ca Staff
 

Drallib

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Good2Golf said:
Drallib, please note that the Milnet.ca Guidelines require posters to include links to quoted material.
As well, while not a hard requirement per the guidelines, it is considered good form to provide some of your own text in the post to provide context or insight into the quotation, not just a straight quote with no other information added.  This is why my quotation of your post is devoid of anything, because the quote function removes nested quotation material by default...nothing there but someone else’s (unattributed) material.

Regards

Milnet.ca Staff

Understood! I'll do so next time.

Thank you dapaterson for submitting the link.
 

CBH99

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I had absolutely no idea, and I followed our operations there pretty closely.  Thanks for the info & pics!  Wow...
 

blacktriangle

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Fairly certain there are some photos of them in a book that got published. I think it was "Shadow Warriors" by Col Bernd Horn, but I could be wrong.
 

dapaterson

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reverse_engineer said:
Fairly certain there are some photos of them in a book that got published. I think it was "Shadow Warriors" by Col Bernd Horn, but I could be wrong.

So, no reputable sources then...
 

Good2Golf

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One has to assume that there is a valid reason why only so much information is available publicly to this day.  There has been at least a decade to ATIP info on the CH-178.  Unless the ATIP policy changes or DND de-classifies related information, fair to believe there is likely no more information forthcoming from DND on the subject. 

G2G
 

dapaterson

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Do you mean to suggest that Special Operations forces (such as 427 Squadron, as mentioned in the article) and information pertaining to them is held close?  WHO KNEW?
 

Good2Golf

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A surprise to some, no doubt. ;)
 

Colin Parkinson

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Good2Golf said:
One has to assume that there is a valid reason why only so much information is available publicly to this day.  There has been at least a decade to ATIP info on the CH-178.  Unless the ATIP policy changes or DND de-classifies related information, fair to believe there is likely no more information forthcoming from DND on the subject. 

G2G

Of course you could ask the supplier of the helicopters and pilots, I was under the impression that these were Polish pilots and machines?
 

Good2Golf

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Of course if you know who the supplier and pilots were, then you actually don’t need to ask them.
 

garb811

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Yep, the coverup was so well executed, the Defence Minister spoke about it publicly when the deal was signed...
Canada to lease Russian-built copters for use in Afghanistan, MacKay says
MURRAY BREWSTER
OTTAWA
The Canadian Press
Published July 31, 2008

Canada will lease up to eight Russian-built helicopters to ferry supplies around the battlefield in Afghanistan until it gets new U.S. choppers, Defence Minister Peter MacKay says.

It is a stopgap measure meant to get Canadian army supply convoys off the bomb-laced roads of Kandahar, where explosives have been taking an increasingly deadly toll.
...
He even said which company the lease was with and more...
Opposition wants to know more about leased choppers
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Thursday, August 7, 2008 10:20PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 8:45PM EDT

Canada's military will soon be getting new medium-lift helicopters and unmanned surveillance drones, Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced on Thursday.

At a press conference in Longueuil, Que., MacKay said Ottawa will lease up to six Russian-made choppers and later buy six used U.S.-made Chinook helicopters. Those choppers, manufactured by Boeing, will have the ability to transport both troops and equipment.

The short-term lease of the Russian helicopters through the Toronto-based Skylink includes a contract for pilots for the choppers.
...
And then, wow, the fact Canadians were piloting them eventually came out as well..
Tories mum on Russian choppers lease
Social Sharing
CBC News · Posted: Nov 24, 2010 9:05 PM ET | Last Updated: November 24, 2010

Questions are being raised about the Conservative government's procurement of  Russian helicopters that Canadian pilots have been secretly using to fly troops into combat in Afghanistan.

Until this week, the government had been silent about the MI-17 "Hip" helicopters that were leased last year. The government still refuses to provide any details of their procurement, including how much the lease cost.
...
Military sources told CBC News that the idea of leasing Russian choppers was approved by cabinet early last year. It took some time to train Canadian crews, but the helicopters went into service quickly, used by Canadian special forces troops on secret missions.
...
Amazing what one can find via Google.
 

CBH99

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I, as well as most other 'gracefully aging' folks here, remember the helicopters being leashed until our D models came online.

I hadn't seen them with the "Canada" paint prior to today.  Never thought I'd see that unless it was photoshopped...
 

daftandbarmy

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FWIW, alot of logging companies invest in Russian choppers like the MI-8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xTcEGS_xB0
 
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