CU-170 Heron unmanned aerial vehicle ready to go to work
On January 21, 2009, Colonel Christopher Coates, commander of the Joint Task Force Afghanistan (JTF-Afg) Air Wing, announced that the Wing's CU-170 Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have achieved "initial operational capability" and are ready to go to work.
Brigadier-General Denis Thompson, the commander of Joint Task Force Afghanistan, will assign the Herons' tasks and set their priorities.
"I am proud to announce today that the CU-170 Heron unmanned aerial vehicle has reached initial operational capability. By achieving initial operational capability, we are able to provide the Commander of Task Force Kandahar with an operational-level day or night video capability that will enhance our operational picture," said Colonel Coates.
"The information gathered by the Heron is in high demand, and will help reduce the number of insurgent attacks by scouting out convoy routes and surrounding areas, scanning for insurgents, and observing suspicious activities such as the planting of improvised explosive devices."
The Heron is a long-range UAV that can carry a wide variety of sensors and information systems to gather data for intelligence analysis, and provide surveillance and target acquisition over a large area in support of International Security Assistance Force operations in Kandahar Province.
"The Heron UAV is an integral part of the modern battlefield. It provides life-saving surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities that can be used in a variety of operations.
This is another significant step toward building the air capability here in southern Afghanistan. It will help save lives by reducing the threats to soldiers on the ground," said Colonel Coates.
The Heron detachment supporting Task Force Kandahar will operate under the call sign "Birchall" in honour of the late Air Commodore Leonard Joseph Birchall of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
On April 4,1942, the then-Squadron Leader Birchall earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the soubriquet "Saviour of Ceylon" for warning the garrison there of the approach of a massive Japanese invasion fleet.
By Captain Dean Menard - Canadian Armed Forces
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