The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Canadian NORAD Region (CANR) have achieved initial operating capability for their fleet of CC-150 Polaris air-to-air refuelling tankers, the service announced.
This milestone, otherwise known as IOC, was achieved earlier this month and validates the fleet’s ability to support not only its strategic airlift and air-to-air refuelling role for other domestic and overseas operations.
NORAD uses the tankers for Northern and Arctic operations.
Notable missions the fleet will now support are similar to what NORAD conducts in response to Russian incursions into the Canadian and United States identification zones in the Arctic.
Until the point of this milestone, the RCAF primarily relied on their aging fleet of CC-130H/T Hercules air-to-air refuelling and transport aircraft to fill this role; but those aircraft are now being phased out of service, as their primary search and rescue (SAR) role is soon to be taken over by the new CC-295 fixed wing SAR platform.
“The CC-150 tanker is a great platform for the CANR mission. It’s fast, reliable and extremely flexible in its ability to help us achieve our mission set,” said Brigadier-General Ed “Hertz” Vaughan, Deputy Commander, Canadian NORAD Region.
“When NORAD tasks our region to deploy CF-18 Fighters to the north, the Polaris tanker is now ready to be a part of the mix, to help defend our approaches and keep us all safe.”
This IOC milestone was validated during a real-world CANR deployment to Yellowknife and Inuvik, Northwest Territories, during the weekend of June 13. The aircraft flew north to meet up with CF-18 Fighters over the Beaufort Sea, where it provided air-to-air refuelling support.
The Polaris tanker aircraft is a similar version to the CC-150 Polaris aircraft which are configured to carry passengers. The difference with the tanker version is fewer seats, and the ability to carry more fuel and cargo.