Operation BOXTOP

Operation BOXTOP is a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) mission to bring supplies to Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert. CFS Alert is remote, located on the northeast tip of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, just 817 km from the North Pole. As a result, the CAF concentrates on main supply periods for the station twice per year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Additional re-supplies periods can be added if needed. 


Due to COVID-19, RCAF aircraft are conducting more frequent resupply flights to Alert, NU.

How many people are deployed?

The CAF uses Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) cargo aircraft to resupply CFS Alert. Typically these are the CC-130J Hercules and the CC-177 Globemaster III.

Each aircraft is manned by RCAF members, who are primarily from 8 Wing Trenton. Thule, Greenland, is commonly used as a staging stop. Further, CAF members at CFS Alert help by bringing in supplies when the aircraft arrive. In total, this can add up to around 100 people.

What are they doing?

Each spring and fall, RCAF aircraft conduct flights around the clock over a two-week period for Operation BOXTOP. They bring thousands of pounds of fuel and supplies to the CFS Alert. Typically, they concentrate on delivering fuel in the spring and dry goods in the fall.

History and context of the operation

CFS Alert is the most northern permanently inhabited place in the world. It keeps signals intelligence facilities to support CAF military operations. CFS Alert also has technology to detect the location of objects of interest, including High Frequency and Direction Finding (HFDF). It supports search and rescue and other operations with this technology.

CFS Alert also supports Environment and Climate Change Canada and Arctic researchers. Further, it plays a key role in Canada’s surveillance and control of its Northern territories and approaches.

Through Operation BOXTOP, the CAF is able to continue its mission at CFS Alert.


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