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Mobility Airmen support Canadian exercise in High Arctic

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt
  • New York National Guard
Fifty Airmen from the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing and two ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules are in the High Arctic supporting the Canadian Armed Forces’ annual Operation Nunalivut exercise in Canada's Nunavut territory.

The Canadian exercise began April 1 and wraps up April 22. It is the third year that the New York ANG Airmen, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base, New York, have participated in the Canadian military exercise.

The New York ANG team is operating out of three locations during the exercise -- Resolute Bay; Thule Air Base, Greenland; and Little Cornwallis Island, which is about 50 miles northwest of Resolute.

Shortly after arriving, maintainers and operations Airmen began establishing a skiway camp to support LC-130 flight operations. The first LC-130 landed on the skiway April 14. A skiway is an area cleared of snow so that ski-equipped planes can land.

The team who prepared the skiway consisted of eight Airmen from the 109th AW who are also trained four Canadian engineers on how to prepare a skiway for large aircraft.

"We're the only team in the world that does this," Maj. Matthew Sala, a member of the 109th AW, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. "Our aircraft is the only C-130 in the entire world that has skis on it and can land in the Arctic and Antarctic."

The LC-130s are able to provide up to 9,000 pounds of cargo per flight as opposed to 1,200 pounds the Canadians' Twin Otters can carry, allowing the LC-130 to transport in one trip what the Twin Otters would need 10 flights to move.

The 109th AW will help bring fuel and supplies to the forward-deployed locations during the exercise.

"Our support for Operation Nunalivut allows us to demonstrate our full range of polar expeditionary airlift capabilities in a joint U.S. and Canadian environment," said Col. Shawn Clouthier, the 109th AW commander. "I'm proud of our Airmen for the great work they are doing in showcasing our unique mission all over the world."

Operation Nunalivut is a sovereignty operation conducted annually since 2007 in northern Canada. According to the Canadian Forces Joint Task Force-North, the exercise provides an opportunity for the Canadian Armed Forces to assert Canada's sovereignty over to northernmost regions; demonstrate the ability to operate in the harsh winter environment in remote areas of the High Arctic; and enhance its capability to respond to any situation in the region.

The New York ANG’s 105th AW, based at Stewart ANGB, New York, is also supporting the Canadian forces exercise using C-17 Globemaster IIIs.