Approximately 700 military members from the Canadian Armed Forces, the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, and the United States Air National Guard braved the beginning of the Canadian winter during the VS16 NORAD Field Training Exercise in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador from October 15 to 26, 2015.
The exercise was a portion of an annual exercise series sponsored by NORAD and led by a regional command who undertakes field training exercises aimed at improving its operational capability in a bi-national environment. The participants were challenged in their ability to detect, deter, and defend against a variety of threats to North America’s sovereign airspace.
"This year’s exercise scenarios provided participants the opportunity to realistically train and practice their mission in a simulated training environment. The teamwork between Canadians and Americans has been outstanding straight from beginning of the exercise", explained Lieutenant-Colonel Kyle Paul (RCAF), VS16 NORAD FTX Air Task Force Commander. "Both nations were able to improve their inter-operability and ultimately to demonstrate NORAD’s ability to defend North America."
This year’s exercise saw NORAD building on previous years’ training successes when deploying air assets and personnel to the North to exercise sovereignty operations in North America’s aerospace and in the High Arctic.
At the NORAD Forward Operating Location in Iqaluit about 150 participants deployed along with CF-18 Hornets, CC-130 Hercules, CH-149 Cormorant helicopter, and all the necessary maintenance and support personnel.
"Operating from Iqaluit presented a number of challenges for logistics, communications and flying operations. Nevertheless, through careful planning, cooperation with local agencies and hard work, the Iqaluit detachment was able to bring the Forward Operating Location facilities to an operational state very rapidly to support our flying operations", explained Lieutenant-Colonel Dave Turenne (RCAF), Detachment Commander in Iqaluit.
At the NORAD Forward Operating Location in 5 Wing Goose Bay, about 580 participants from the Canadian and United States Armed Forces deployed along with a variety of aircraft and assets. Canadian assets included a CC-150 Polaris, CH-146 Griffon helicopter, and a deployable military air space control system. United States assets included F-15 Eagles, E-2 Hawkeye, E-3 Sentry airborne early warning and control aircraft, and KC-135 Stratotanker.
"In order to be effective we need to work together. We come up [to Canada] to operate in a different environment and also operate with different organizations" explains Lt Col Robert Swertfager (USAF), Air Expeditionary Wing Commander.
The 5th Canadian Division, the Army in Atlantic Canada, also deployed 34 soldiers at 5 Wing in order to support the exercise. More specifically, members from the 37e Canadian Brigade Group provided force protection for certain areas and aircraft with their American counterparts.
"The exercise certainly allowed 5 Wing Goose Bay and Iqaluit to demonstrate their ability to serve as valuable operating sites in support of NORAD’s mission and showcase their role in the defence of North America as Forward Operating Locations", said Lieutenant-Colonel Kyle Paul. "The professionalism and dedication of all participants in both locations made it possible to circumvent all the challenges associated to the deployment of such a task force."
NORAD ensures U.S. and Canadian air sovereignty through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne early warning aircraft, and ground based air defense assets cued by interagency and defense surveillance radars.
NORAD is a bi-national command formed by a partnership between Canada and the United States. NORAD provides maritime warning, aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America. For more than 50 years, NORAD has worked to detect, deter, and defend against all threats to our sovereign airspace.