RCAF deploys to Miramar on Exercise Southern Push

Corporal Justin Roy, 4 Wing Imaging and 4 Wing Public Affairs

Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members of 4 Wing Cold Lake hang up their winter jackets every year to travel to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), Miramar, California. Their objective is to conduct combined force generation deployment exercises to demonstrate their commitment to readiness.

This winter was no exception as air and ground crews including pilots, technicians from 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron, 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron and 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron, and supporting units joined their efforts to maximize flying hours in order to
accomplish high level tactical training for Exercise Southern Push.

To support these training missions, 8 Wing’s Trenton CC-150 Polaris transport aircraft, from 437 Transport Squadron, provided air-to-air refuelling for 4 Wing’s flying squadrons CF-18 Hornets. The transport tanker is capable of transferring 36,000 kilograms of fuel to the CF-18’s and flew over the Pacific Ocean, just outside of the Miramar base.

Top Aces Alpha Jets also supported the missions by providing a platform for future fighter pilots in training. As a combined result, the students on the Fighter Pilot Course, known as FPC 62, all graduated on March 11!
To add to the excitement, during this year’s exercise I had the opportunity, as an Image Technician, to work with the CF-18 Hornet pilots, and witness their daily routine. Every morning they woke up early to prepare for their day. This included extensive planning, morning briefs that touch on tactical operations, and training for the missions ahead.

In addition to the flying operations, there is a strong emphasis on training up-and-coming pilots for the CF-18 Hornets by providing flying gear from their respective flying squadrons. Aircraft Life Support Equipment technicians are the ones who are responsible to provide pilots with flight suits, life preservers and helmets.

Upon getting suited up, these future pilots are partnered up with a designated experienced pilot, and ride in the back of a two-seated CF-18 Hornet for training and mentorship opportunities.

While there is training in the air, there is also training on the ground. During my time in Miramar, I’ve observed aircraft technicians from both 409 and 410 Squadrons service the CF-18 Hornets. Their preparation and recovery of the aircrafts included refuelling on the ground, oil changes, removing and installing various aircraft parts and armament.

As the RCAF relies on well-led, robust, healthy and inclusive squadrons there is a great comradery between the pilots and ground crew. I personally observed this synergy when each one completed their flight checks, just before launching. Pilots and ground crews will do their inspections, and come together in offering best wishes before a flight. Acknowledgements, by offering a handshake, will also be made for a job well done in preparation for the mission. A simple inspection ritual that not only meets flight safety requirements but upholds pleasantry and great morale and welfare before a specific mission.

With the exercise coming to an end after six weeks, CAF members have returned home with more experience after completing a successful, challenging and concentrated period of training. They will remain relevant and responsive for any task assigned in order to provide combat air power to protect and defend Canada’s National and Global interests. This is our 4 Wing mission.