CFAWC and the SAR Community: Working Together to Save Lives - Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Centre: Improving CF SAR capabilities
In the past few years, Canadian Air Force leadership has identified the need to transform and modernize the Air Force to meet the demands of today’s changing environment. Many initiatives have since taken place, including the consolidation of a number of operational squadrons to support the creation of the Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Centre (CFAWC).
Stood up in 2005, CFAWC, the engine of change for Air Force transformation, aims at providing the Air Force with the knowledge to acquire the right capabilities it needs to do its job and to develop doctrine to help ensure the successful conduct of aerospace operations as we move into the future.
Armed with these goals, the unit leadership has identified the need to review how the Canadian Forces (CF) Search and Rescue (SAR) community operates and how to improve its already impressive performance.
The section tasked to do so is called Air Mobility and SAR and resides within the Concepts and Doctrine Development (C&DD) branch of CFAWC, located in Trenton, Ontario. This section is staffed by three regular force officers and one reservist. The staff analyzes the Air Force’s current capabilities and makes recommendations based on thorough research to provide the SAR community with the knowledge to acquire the right equipment and to find ways to train and conduct operations more efficiently. Lieutenant-Colonel David MacKinnon, C&DD Branch Head, says that the work of this team has the potential to greatly improve the CF SAR capabilities in the future.
“For example,” he says, “the team is currently working on Project Yukon, a project that aims to determine the best fleet mix for Air Mobility (including SAR) in order to accomplish the many tasks the Canadian Air Force has been given.” “This team,” he adds, “addresses real issues with real solutions. It is a great asset to the SAR community.”
In fact, the team has been working on several other projects, such as the CFAWC-sponsored study on precision aerial delivery systems. The Canadian Joint-Precision Aerial Delivery Stand-Off System (CJ-PADSS) project was initiated to research alternative aerial delivery methods. This automated technology uses a global positioning system (GPS), to accurately guide aerial delivery loads to their respective targets using electrical motors to control the parachutes. Initial research demonstrated that even while this technology is young, these systems should be considered when thinking about the aerial delivery systems and procedures of the future.
CFAWC is also sponsoring research to develop a Hercules Observer Trainer (HOT). This mission trainer, still at the prototype level, has already received positive comments from the Air Mobility community, giving the project enough support to see it through the initial experimental phase. Initially, the HOT will be developed to respond to a pressing need from the Tactical Air Transport (TAT) community but further spirals of the project will explore the possibilities of using this simulator for spotter training.
Another important ongoing project of the Air Mobility and SAR team is the development of the B-GA-460 SAR Operational Doctrine, a document that will be aligned with the recently published Canadian Forces Aerospace Doctrine. This document will help ensure that the procedures used throughout the CF SAR community are of the highest standard, using the latest techniques and technology, and will also ensure that interoperability with our allies is maintained.
With CFAWC sponsored projects such as Yukon, CJ-PADSS and HOT, also with the publication of pertinent aerospace doctrine, the future of the SAR community has never been brighter. There is no doubt that we will soon see great changes that will only make the SAR community even more efficient and effective than it already is.
Major Gilles Bourgoin is a member of the Concepts and Doctrine Development Branch – Air Mobility and SAR at the Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Centre in Trenton, Ontario. He joined the Forces in 1988 as an Air Navigator. His positions include several years as controller at both JRCC Victoria and JRCC Trenton.