This year, 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron (Sqn) celebrates its 25th anniversary of Air to Air Refuelling (AAR) on the CC130HT tanker aircraft. The Squadron’s history of AAR takes it around the world and into many different exercises and operations.
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) took delivery of five CC-130H Hercules aircraft between 1991 and 1992, to Northwest Industries Limited in Edmonton, Alberta. There, they were to be converted to the CC-130HT tanker configuration. The first aircraft modified was CC130339. The initial aircrew course was completed in 1993. The first operational mission was on 11 February 1993, where 435 Sqn assisted in the intercept of a high jacked Lufthansa Airbus A310 off the East Coast of North America in conjunction with the United States Air Force.
During their first few years of operations, AAR crews from 435 Sqn participated in many operations and exercises. These included strategic airlift operations to Europe, northern Canada, and AAR exercises in the Netherlands, as well as the United States. In 1998, 435 Sqn was deployed as a tanker to Kuwait for Operation Southern Watch, in order to enforce Iraqi compliance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution following the Gulf War. In 1999, 435 Sqn participated in a 79-day NATO operation, named Operation Allied Force, an air campaign in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. CC-130HT aircraft provided refueling to CF-18 Hornets flying air strike missions from Aviano, Italy. Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Sqn has engaged in Operation Noble Eagle, providing AAR in the defence of North American Airspace. 435 Sqn AAR crews deployed in 2011 to Sicily, Italy as part of Operation Mobile, the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya during the Libyan Civil War.
The Sqn’s AAR crews have participated in many operations over the years, but they also engage each year in multiple exercises with Canadian CF-18s, and fighter jets from allied countries around the world. Yearly exercises have included, Maple Flag in Cold Lake, Alberta, Red Flag in Alaska and Nevada, Cougar South in California, and Alouette Mobile in Louisiana. They have also engaged in exercises in Europe, and as far away as Australia.
The CC130HT is Canada’s only tactical aerial refuelling aircraft, which has seen the Sqn conducting missions, exercises and critical AAR support globally since 1993. Known for their professionalism and flexibility in getting the mission accomplished, the AAR crews at 435 Sqn continually strive to uphold the Sqn’s motto: “Certi Provehendi”, which means “Determined on Delivery”.