450 Squadron celebrates 50 years of tactical aviation

A C-model CH-147 Chinook helicopter sling loads a 2 1/2 ton radio truck.
During Exercise MOBILE WARRIOR, a C-model CH-147 Chinook helicopter from 450 Squadron sling loads a 2 1/2 ton radio truck. Photo: DND/CAF

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By Second Lieutenant Nick Effenberger, 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron – Petawawa Post

450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron (THS), based at Garrison Petawawa, Ontario, proudly celebrated its 50th anniversary on March 29, 2018.

The squadron holds the distinction of being the sole Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) operator of the F-model CH-147F Chinook. In conjunction with the CH-146 Griffon, they provide tactical helicopter support to the Canadian Army and Special Operations Forces.

First formed as the Canadian 450 Heavy Transport Squadron in 1968, the squadron was Canada’s venture into logistic air support using Canadian CH-113A Voyageur helicopters. It was based at RCAF Station Saint Hubert, Quebec until its relocation to Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Ottawa (Uplands), Ontario in 1970. The squadron received Royal Assent for the designation of 450 Transport Helicopter Squadron on May 20, 1970.

At the time of the move, the squadron began to operate the CH-135 Twin Huey alongside the Voyageur until 1975. At that time, the RCAF replaced the Voyageur with the C-model CH-147 Chinooks, and the squadron’s Twin Huey utility flight was disbanded. The Twin Huey returned to the squadron in November 1990, and the squadron was again renamed as 450 Composite Helicopter Squadron.

After the Chinook’s retirement in 1991 the squadron was renamed 450 THS and continued to fly the Twin Huey in support of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Joint Task Force 2. After nearly three decades of tactical aviation (helicopter) service, 450 THS was deactivated in 1996, and formally disbanded two years later.

Then, in 2009, Canada purchased six D-model CH-147 Chinooks from the United States. Canadian crews flew the CH-147D Chinook as part of Canada’s contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. On May 2, 2012, the squadron was reactivated as 450 THS to fly the CH-147F Chinook. A number of the Afghanistan Chinook crews from various RCAF squadrons brought their experience to the reborn 450 THS as core members of the squadron.

450 THS is now the home of Canada’s new fifteen F-model Chinooks. The F-model is an advanced, multi-mission, medium- to heavy-lift helicopter. Although based at Garrison Petawawa, the squadron reports to 1 Wing Kingston, the home of Canada’s tactical aviation capability.

Since reactivation, 450 THS has participated in numerous exercises at home and abroad, notably Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE and Exercise RIM OF THE PACIFIC (RIMPAC). They have also deployed on domestic operations within Canada’s Arctic (Operations NANOOK and NEVUS), and lent support to disaster relief efforts throughout Canada in 2017 (Operation LENTUS).

As announced by the Government of Canada on March 19, 2018, the CH-147F Chinook, with crews from 450 THS, will be operationally deployed overseas for the first time on the United Nations peace support operation in Mali, Africa, later in 2018.

Although Canada has had tactical aviation capabilities for more than half a century, 450 THS and the CH-147F Chinook are at the forefront of Canadian Armed Forces operations. In the words of their motto: “By Air to Battle!”

Image gallery

  • A C-model CH-147 Chinook helicopter sling loads a 2 1/2 ton radio truck.
  • Avionics systems technicians prepare a CH-147 Chinook helicopter to be air lifted.
  • A CH-147F Chinook helicopter
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