CP-140 Aurora Detachment Completes 100th Mission in Theatre
March 17, 2015, Kuwait - As the sun sank into the dusty desert of Kuwait, turning the sand a deep orange hue, the throb of four Allison turboprop engines announced the safe return to base of the 100th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission by a CP-140 Aurora aircrew over Iraq.
Members of Air Task Force-Iraq’s CP-140 Long Range Patrol (LRP) Detachment have been engaged in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) since late October 2014, amassing nearly 900 hours of flying during 100 missions and gathering considerable information and imagery on ISIL activities.
The 100th mission marks a success for the Aurora community across the board. Operation IMPACT, the Canadian Armed Forces mission against ISIL, has seen the solidification of new capabilities for the Aurora fleet, building on operations in Libya and Afghanistan with the use of the upgraded Block III CP-140.
The modernized Block III Aurora aircraft is well equipped to fulfil a number of roles, both over water in its traditional maritime patrol capacity, as well as over the desert, where the capabilities of aircraft and crew have received much acclaim throughout the coalition.
The improved Aurora is equipped with new sensors like the Wescam MX20 camera and Ground Mapping Radar. The MX20 can image points of interest with High Definition resolution during the day and night, due to its heat-sensitive infrared camera. Thanks to developments in radar technology, even on days of total cloud cover, the Aurora can see through it, taking images of ground sites that rival anything a conventional camera can produce. This imagery can be sent immediately to analysts who identify and assess objects that merit further investigation or potential airstrikes.
The benefit of having ISR missions performed by a manned platform, instead of a remotely piloted vehicle, is the human component on board. Crewmembers that are immersed in the mission and have situational awareness over the battlespace are often better able to differentiate that which is out of the ordinary from the normal pattern of life on the ground.
Despite living and working in a sandy environment, constantly battling the heat and frequent dust storms, the dedicated Aurora aircraft technicians have given their utmost to ensure superb serviceability of the aircraft in theatre. The 100 mission milestone was only achieved thanks to round-the-clock efforts of all the technicians, aircrews and support staff that have been part of this detachment.
As the aircraft landed from this 100th sortie, the LRP Detachment gathered together to celebrate with pizza and pop. However, the celebrations couldn’t last too long into the night; there was one aircraft to put to bed, another to wake up and make ready, and the next crew needed to rest prior to their 101st long mission. Through a team effort, the LRP Detachment of Air Task Force-Iraq will continue to help ensure that ISIL has no place to hide.