The Royal Canadian Air Force concluded its participation in CRUZEX 2018 in Natal, Brazil, on November 30, following almost two weeks of training alongside members of several militaries from around the Americas.
This was the RCAF’s second time participating in CRUZEX, which was last held in 2013. Operating two CC-130J Hercules cargo aircraft, the CRUZEX Air Task Force was made up of 37 members of 436 Transport Squadron and 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, and two jumpmasters from the Canadian Army Advanced Warfare Centre (CAAWC).
“During CRUZEX, we took the opportunity to fly tactical missions in combat scenarios, performing everything from airborne operations and container delivery system drops, to upgrade flights for our first officers,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Andy Bowser, Air Task Force Commander and Commanding Officer of 436 Transport Squadron. “Perhaps the most important part of the exercise for us was building relationships with our partner nations in the region.”
Second Lieutenant Mariana Dutra (left) and Lieutenant Lay-Ann Lie Vieira Quelie (centre), pilots with the Brazilian Air Force, join a warrant officer from 426 Transport Training Squadron on the ramp of an RCAF CC-130J Hercules for a training flight on CRUZEX 2018 near Natal, Brazil on November 23, 2018. Photograph by Able Seaman Paul Green
Defence diplomacy in the Americas is a key initiative of Strong, Secure, Engaged (Canada’s Defence Policy), and Brazil is one of the Government of Canada’s priorities for engagement in the Western Hemisphere. The RCAF has had a bilateral relationship with the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira) since 2009.
During the combined training scenarios, RCAF members witnessed the operations of, and trained alongside, multiple Brazilian Air Force, Navy and Army aircraft; Chilean and United States Air Force F-16s and KC-135s; a French C-235 transport plane; Peruvian A-37s and Mirage 2000s fighters; and Uruguayan A-37s.
“Exercising in unfamiliar environments like Brazil contributes to the operational readiness of Air Mobility aircrew and technicians, as we may be called upon to fly anywhere in the world to support Canadian Armed Forces operations,” said Captain Samantha Behm, a pilot with 436 Squadron.
Members of CAAWC had the opportunity to jump from Brazilian C-130s and C-295s, and hosted Brazilian Army paratroopers on board RCAF CC-130Js for a jump. The exercise concluded with 160 Brazilian Army paratroops (“paraquedistas”) receiving their Canadian jump wings in a ceremony.
“Through participation in CRUZEX, the RCAF is strengthening international and regional security, and developing important relationships that will enable close collaboration on future humanitarian and military missions,” said Major-General Christian Drouin, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division.