© Times-Herald photo by Nathan Liewicki
Three CT-155 Hawks fly over Moose Jaw during Sidewalk Days on July 4. In 2011 and 2012, the CFB Moose Jaw aircrafts were grounded for parts of 2011 and 2012 and pilot trainees were ushered to the U.S. to continue their training.
15 Wing sent pilot trainees to America in 2011, 2012
15 Wing Moose Jaw managed to pull off a maneuver with the help of its U.S. allies.
Lt. Col. Brian Murray, the acting wing commander, said Wednesday that the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) program took advantage of its relationship with the Europe NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program (ENJJPP) in 2011 and 2012 to continue training its pilots while an investigation was conducted into the crash of a CT-155 Hawk near Cold Lake, Alta., in June 2011.
As a result of the crash, Lt. Col. Murray explained to the Times-Herald that the CT-155 Hawk training program at 15 Wing and 4 Wing Cold Lake had to be temporarily suspended. In the interim, pilots were sent to the U.S. continue their 108 hours of training 54 hours of support time and 54 hours of flight time.
“We’d been part of that program since the early 2000s and typically we send two of our pilots per year to participate,” Lt. Col. Murray said of ENJJPP.
“Because of that relationship … it allowed us to leverage that program and just increase our numbers in the very short-term.”
He isn’t aware of the exact number of pilots that were sent to American military posts, nor does he know what the extra costs associated with the temporary transfer was to Canadian taxpayers.
“There were some cost savings for Canada because we didn’t train them here, so a portion of the normal cost we incur training our pilots in Canada was saved,” added Lt. Col. Murray.
According to a July 29 story in the Ottawa Citizen, the Royal Canadian Air Force also sent pilot students to the U.S. as a result of changes to the level of training services provided, which stemmed from a program Bombardier brought in to cut its costs in 2011.
Bombardier provides support services to the NFTC program, which is overseen by the Department of National Defence.
After the investigation into the CT-155 Hawk crash wrapped up, the NFTC program was cranked back up.
And according to Lt. Col. Murray, the Hawks are now “absolutely up to standard.” There are 16 of them in the NFTC program’s fleet six of them are at 15 Wing, six of them are at 4 Wing and the other four are rotated through should minor issues arise.
Lt. Col. Murray noted that the lifespan of an aircraft can be prolonged via upgrade programs. The Hawks are one of those aircrafts involved in an upgrade program something he said is common.
“We don’t anticipate at this time any reduction in aircraft availability numbers that are going to impact our program,” said Lt. Col. Murray.
He also added that he doesn’t know of any plans to move the NFTC program away from 15 Wing, but re-iterated that the flexibility with U.S. allies is very effective when support and safety is needed.
“We have duty to provide a service to the Government of Canada and our citizens and we do through these relationships with our allies and I think it makes us better and stronger overall,” said Lt. Col. Murray.
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks