415 Long Range Patrol Force Development Squadron

Squadron Badge Swordfish striking its prey. Motto TO THE MARK

415 Squadron was re-established on 5 June 2015, with the amalgamation of the Maritime Proving and Evaluation Unit and 14 Software Engineering Squadron. The Swordfish mission is to contribute to the force development and optimisation of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Long Range Patrol command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities through the provision of through-life operational test and evaluation (OT&E), tactics development and software/systems integration support. To meet this mandate, 415 Squadron is comprised of experienced aircrew, engineers, software integration specialists and data analysts. Unit resources include data analysis and processing equipment, project support labs and an assortment of specialized electronic equipment.

The Squadron is the RCAF OT&E agent for the CP-140M Aurora long-range patrol (LRP) aircraft, and CP-140M mission support and training systems. As such, the Squadron is responsible for conducting trials that ascertain the operational effectiveness and suitability of new or upgraded systems and software, or current systems being used in a new role. This involves assessing publications, training, the maintainability of the equipment and the ability to operate the equipment in an operational environment. The Squadron is also responsible for the associated development and assessment of new tactics. The 415 Squadron Operational Liaison and Acceptance staff, along with highly experienced software integration specialists, provides independent validation and verification of the software for the CP-140M and ground-based systems.

The Squadron is an integral part of the Aurora Incremental Modernization Project (AIMP). This project has completed an upgrade to the navigation, communications and flight instruments, and has begun the upgrade to the mission sensors and mission computer. These AIMP Block 2 and 3 upgrades drastically increased the software/hardware integration within the CP-140 and the platform’s mission potential. The Squadron’s OT&E Flight, on behalf of the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment (AETE), conducts the production acceptance testing of newly upgraded aircraft; acceptance testing is also conducted by the Squadron of aircraft that have undergone contracted third-line inspection and repair.

Given the experience resident at 415 Squadron, the Swordfish are also relied upon to provide operator- and technician-level expert advice to project sponsors throughout the various phases of potential or ongoing upgrade projects. This is done through the co-ordination of operational requirements, in-development assessments, buy-and-try evaluations, support to the development of installation instructions and other required subject-matter expert input. Overall, Squadron personnel bring their wide range of expertise to bear on a variety of RCAF initiatives aimed at enhancing the multi-role capabilities of the CP-140M.

No. 415 Squadron was first formed on 20 August 1941 at Royal Air Force (RAF) Station Thorney Island on the English south coast as Canada's first Torpedo Bombing Squadron. Commanded by Wing Commander E.L. ‘Wally’ Wurtele, the Squadron conducted its initial training on the Bristol Beaufort; by October, the Squadron began serving as an operational training unit for general reconnaissance and torpedo bomber crews. In early 1942, 415 (Torpedo Bombing) Squadron converted to the Handley Page Hampden and, on 21 April 1942, flew its first operational Coastal Command mission. Over the next two years the Squadron would fly anti-submarine and anti-shipping patrols in the English Channel and Bay of Biscay.

On 23 January 1943 the Squadron’s official badge depicting a swordfish striking at its prey with the motto "AD METAM" (To the mark) was approved by King George VI. In September 1943, the Squadron changed over to the Vickers Wellington and Fairey Albacore. The Albacores were the only biplanes to see combat with the RCAF during the Second World War and 415 Squadron was the only Canadian unit to use them. This aircraft combination was very effective against the German E-boats (fast attack craft, such as the S-100 class): the Wellingtons were employed to find the E-boats while the Albacores were sent to attack them.

On 12 July 1944, 415 Squadron was transferred from No. 16 Group of Coastal Command to No. 6 (RCAF) Group of Bomber Command. Re-equipped with the Handley Page Halifax and flying from RCAF Station East Moor in Yorkshire, the Squadron conducted its first bombing mission over Hamburg, Germany, on the night of 28 July 1944. The Squadron flew over 100 bomber missions before being disbanded on 15 May 1945, flying its last operational mission on 25 April. During the war, 415 Squadron lost over 200 members representing the Royal Air Force, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and the Royal New Zealand Air Force in addition to the Royal Canadian Air Force. Sadly the final fates of many of these are unknown; their names are recorded on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede, England.

415 Squadron was re-established as a Maritime Patrol squadron on 1 June 1961under the command of Wing Commander S.S. "Sid" Mitchell at RCAF Station Summerside, P.E.I, and equipped with the Canadair CP-107 Argus. Always proud and ready to lead, the Squadron was quick to establish a Canadian endurance record on 26 July 1961, flying 30 hours and 20 minutes, non-stop. During its two decades at RCAF Station Summerside, the Swordfish conducted a variety of missions including anti-submarine, fisheries and pollution, and Northern sovereignty patrols, operating from an ever-increasing number of deployment locations. In 1964, the Squadron assumed the Search and Rescue duties for the Maritime Air Command.

The tragic crash of Argus 737 occurred on 31 March 1977. The aircraft was returning to base from a Search and Rescue mission with only three engines operating. The aircraft was making a precautionary approach when further undetermined problems were experienced. The crash resulted in three deaths: Master Corporal AI Senez, Sergeant Ralph Arsenault and Major Ross Hawkes.

In 1981, all the Maritime Patrol Squadrons were converted to the Lockheed CP-140 Aurora aircraft and all the East Coast CP-140 squadrons were consolidated at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Greenwood. On the afternoon of 24 July 1981, Argus 736, call sign "Sidney 02", took off from Greenwood's runway 13, circled around and conducted a fly-past for a ceremonial parade drawn up in front of the Greenwood Museum’s sentinel aircraft. The parade was a triple celebration: 415 Squadron’s welcome to Greenwood; its Change of Command ceremony, wherein Lieutenant-Colonel G. Van Boeschoten took over from Lieutenant-Colonel H.A. Johansen; and, the last official Canadian Forces flight of the Argus. On 10 February 1982, Argus 742, now owned by Crown Assets, was ferried by a Swordfish crew from Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Summerside to Rockcliffe, Ontario, for a place of honour in the Ottawa Air Museum.

In 1982, the Squadron received its Standard in recognition of 25 years of dedicated service to the Crown and the people of Canada. The Colours were presented to the Squadron on behalf of the Queen on 25 September by the Honourable John E Shaffer, Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia. The battle honours emblazoned thereon are: Atlantic, 1942; English Channel and North Sea, 1942-1944; Biscay, 1942-1943; Normandy, 1944; France and Germany, 1944-1945; Ruhr, 1944-1945; German Ports, 1944-1945; and Rhine.

Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 prompted Canada to send a naval task group to enforce the United Nation’s resolutions. 415 Squadron was tasked to support this task group during its work-up phase during transit from Halifax to the Mediterranean Sea. The Aurora exercised the self-defense capability of the Canadian Task Group and provided surface surveillance. In 1993, OPERATION SHARP GUARD brought crews from 415 Squadron to Sigonella, Sicily, where the Swordfish flew surveillance patrols in the Adriatic in support of the United Nation’s arms embargo of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. The Squadron also participated in OPERATION ASSISTANCE, providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Manitoba during the great flood of 1997.

Throughout the 80s and 90s, anti-submarine warfare training and anti-submarine patrols remained the focal point for 415 Squadron. With the end of the Cold War and new asymmetric threats emerging, the Aurora fleet became more involved in overland missions; to align the CP140 fleet with this new reality, all the CP140 squadrons were rebranded as Long Range Patrol (LRP) Squadrons. The Swordfish, along with the other LRP Squadrons, were active participants in OPERATION APOLLO, deploying crews to the Arabian Sea region in support of the American-led Campaign Against Terrorism (CAT) following the events of September 11, 2001. The first two crews rotated through on deployments of six months duration. For the remainder of the operation, crews were rotated every 56 days. The CP-140 commitment to OPERATION APOLLO ended in July 2003.

As a follow-on to OPERATION APOLLO, the LRP fleet, under the direction of 1 Canadian Air Division Headquarters, developed a Squadron Vanguard posture for future potential missions. 415 Squadron was the first unit selected, holding Vanguard from 1 April to 30 September 2004, maintaining a high readiness to rapidly deploy worldwide. In September 2004, coincident with the close of 415 Squadron’s Vanguard liability period, came the call to support NATO naval units in the Mediterranean conducting OPERATION ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR, with the mission to deter, monitor and intercept potential threats of terrorism in the Mediterranean Sea; to defend NATO member nations against terrorists operating at sea; and, to demonstrate resolve and presence in the campaign against terrorism. By mid-October, one crew and support staff from 415 Squadron along with 14 and 19 Wing (Comox) technicians and aircrew, were in theatre and flying OPERATION SIRIUS missions out of Sigonella. Soon thereafter, on 29 July 2005, 415 Squadron was stood down for a second time.

In 2015, it was decided to merge the capabilities and expertise of 14 SES and MPEU into a single unit that would optimize frontline operator and engineering input into the ongoing development of the platform, and the associated mission/training support systems. This would allow for a more efficient, holistic approach to deal with the software/hardware complexities and to fully realise the vast potential of the AIMP-upgraded Aurora, now dubbed the CP140M. As such, after a 10-year absence, 415 Squadron and the Swordfish were stood up to once again proudly serve the government and people of Canada.

In honour of the 75th anniversary of the Squadron’s founding, the Swordfish will join 404 Squadron (Buffaloes), 405 Squadron (Eagles) and 413 Squadron (Tuskers) in 2016 at 14 Wing Greenwood for a combined birthday celebration.

415 Long Range Patrol Squadron
14 Wing Greenwood
PO Box 5000, Station Main
Greenwood, NS B0P 1N0

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