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Canada sending Griffon, Chinook helicopters to Latvia

By Skies Magazine | December 15, 2023

Estimated reading time 2 minutes, 46 seconds.

The CH-146 Griffon is based on the Bell 412EP. Mike Reyno Photo

Canada will send four CH-146 Griffon helicopters to Latvia and will periodically deploy CH-147F Chinooks there starting in the fall of 2025, as part of an expanded NATO mission.

This marks the first time Canada has persistently deployed tactical aviation capabilities to Europe since the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo in the late 1990s and early 2000s, according to the Department of National Defence.

“Through our deployment in Latvia — the largest current Canadian military deployment abroad — Canada is making a meaningful contribution to Euro-Atlantic security,” said Canadian defence minister Bill Blair in a statement.

The Griffon helicopters will be assigned to the Canadian-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Group, as part of Operation REASSURANCE.

CH-147F Chinook helicopters will be periodically deployed to Latvia as part of Canada’s operations there. Mike Reyno Photo

They are part of a renewed effort that will more than double Canada’s presence in the operation, from about 1,000 troops to 2,200 persistently deployed troops by 2026.

“The additional measures that I announced today will significantly increase the capabilities of the Canadian-led, multinational battle group in Latvia, further boosting NATO’s defence and deterrence posture,” said Blair.

The NATO eFP Battle group is composed of Canada and nine other countries: Albania, Czechia, Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.

Canada is also sending 15 Leopard 2A4M tanks to Latvia, and procuring portable anti-armor missile systems, as well as medium-range radar capabilities, along with C$15 million in new infrastructure needed to scale up the existing battle brigade.

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  1. The Griffon is a joke. Sending a beefed up civilian helicopter into a potential war zone is putting our soldiers in harms way. Give them attack helicopters not toys. They can’t escort the chinook the way it’s supposed to be done.

  2. Yes the Griffon is based on a civilian pattern helicopter and not the best option out there for Chinook escort(that mission being referred to as “walking the dog”) but it was successfully employed in the role in Afghanistan(an actual war zone).Read the book Go For Shakedown for that story.

    1. There is no comparison between Afghanistan and a far more intensive and deadly European combat situation should such occur, even though Russia has demonstrated a phenomenal level of military incompetence in Ukraine.

      Griffons were able to successfully escort Chinooks and perform other fire support tasks purely because the environment permitted removal of the cabin doors to allow use of .50 calibre and 7.62 mm door guns. Cooler and rainier weather prevents that. The aforementioned weapons were adequate against soft targets, but would be impotent against armoured targets, most of which would also be armed with far more powerful weapons.

      A single book does not an expert make. I spent the last three years of the Cold War in West Germany. Very few, if any, currently-serving CF members, and certainly no currently-serving Tac Hel members, would have had that opportunity. The collective knowledge and experience have been lost, and would only ever be regained at the cost of a great deal of blood.

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