Parachuting-in: Arctic airdrops support Canadian Armed Forces operations and presence in the North

Members of 436 Transport Squadron conducted an airdrop of supplies at Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert on June 22, 2020. The squadron used a container delivery system and a CC-130J Hercules to drop a training load without needing to land on the Arctic runway at the northeast tip of Ellesmere Island. The load consisted of four training bundles full of water weighing 1000 pounds each.

The airdrop was conducted as proof of concept for a capability that had not been tested in recent years. It was also realistic training in dropping supplies in a remote and harsh environment for the members of 436 Squadron and CFS Alert. Built in 1950, CFS Alert was supplied via airdrop during the construction of the Station. In fact, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the crash of Lancaster 965, which crashed while delivering cargo to the Station via airdrop, killing all on board.

Since then, improvements to aircraft technology and capabilities, as well as station infrastructure, have made this method of resupply much safer, but mostly unnecessary. Air drops are normally used in tactical situations to replenish soldiers on the ground, but they still have a place in regular sustainment missions, especially in austere environments like the Arctic. This capability provides 436 Squadron aircrew with more options when it comes to delivering critical supplies to help maintain Canada’s presence in the Arctic. “It enables us to be more flexible,” said Captain Scott Sinclair, the…

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