1 Wing Kingston History
The oldest wing in Canadian military aviation, No. 1 Canadian Wing Royal Air Force, was formed in 1919 and disbanded in 1920. Over the following decades, 1 Wing was re-instated and moved several times:
- Winnipeg, 1925
- Montreal, 1950, in the RCAF Reserve Group as part of Air Defence Command with operational responsibility for the defence of North America
- England, 1951, in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
- Marville, France, 1955
- Lahr, Germany, in 1967
In 1958, 1 Wing was assigned to Air Transport Command and equipped with Beechcraft Expeditors and subsequently, with the de Havilland Otter aircraft which it flew for the next 25 years. As the Otter came to the end of its useful life, 1 Wing began flying the CH-135 Twin Huey and the CH-36 Kiowa helicopters in a tactical aviation role as part of 10 Tactical Aviation Group (10 TAG). In 1994, the CH-146 Griffon replaced the Twin Huey and the Kiowa as the workhorse of 1 Wing. On June 26, 1997, 1 Wing succeeded the disbanded 10 TAG and moved into its new home at Canadian Forces Base Kingston, Ontario.
As part of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, the Canadian Helicopter Force Afghanistan (CHF(A)) was established at Kandahar Airfield on December 6, 2008, and reached full operational capability in May, 2009. Equipped with eight CH-146B Griffon light utility and six CH-147D Chinook heavy lift helicopters, CHF(A) was activated to provide Canada and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with enhanced tactical aviation support in southern Afghanistan. CFH(A) flew reconnaissance, transport, fire support, escort, and air mobile ground assault missions. Throughout its period of operations, CHF(A) established an enviable record of flexibility and reliability in the full range of combat aviation activities. Before standing down in August, 2011, the CHF(A) fleet moved 91,608 passengers and 7,111,504 pounds of cargo while logging 23,428 combat hours.
In addition to the CHF(A), members of 1 Wing operated the CU-161 Sperwer Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV) working closely with members of the Canadian Army. Supporting intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance, the TUAV Flight was equipped with high mobility vehicles and operated from unprepared sites using a portable hydraulic catapult launch and parachute and airbag recovery system.
In July 2014, the RCAF received the last of 15 new CH-147F Chinook heavy lift, tandem rotor helicopters at 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Petawawa, Ontario. 1 Wing personnel acquired the knowledge, skills and expertise needed to first establish an in-Canada training capability, followed immediately by progressive levels of operational capability of the new fleet of heavy-lift aircraft. The Chinook fleet became fully operational in 2018.
Self-contained and field-deployable, the Tactical Helicopter Squadrons that make up 1 Wing train and integrate with the Army brigades within their geographic regions. The squadrons are tasked to support combat operations, peacekeeping missions, international relief efforts as well as support to other government departments and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. 1 Wing squadrons have participated in operations such as
- Operation (Op) ATHENA in Afghanistan
- Op HALO in earthquake-devastated Haiti
- Op RENAISSANCE delivering humanitarian relief to the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan
- Op IMPACT in Iraq
- Op NANOOK in Canada’s Arctic
- Op LENTUS supporting natural disaster response in various regions in Canada
- Op PRESENCE providing aeromedical evacuation coverage in Mali
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