427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron (427 SOAS)

427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron

About the unit

The 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron (427 SOAS), located at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, Ontario is an air-force unit embedded as an integral element of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM)

Our responsibilities

Our mission is to provide dedicated special operations aviation effects as part of high-readiness Special Operations Task Forces for domestic and international operations.

We also offer secondary support in the delivery of tactical and utility aviation services, including search and rescue.

Our expertise

Our members embody the core values ​​of the Canadian Armed Forces, such as a sense of duty, loyalty, integrity and courage.


The 427 Bomber (Lion) Squadron was initially authorized on October 15, 1942, and activated on November 7, 1942 at RAF (Royal Air Force) Station Croft in the United Kingdom. Its first mission, a mine dropping task near the Frisian Islands, was conducted on December 14, 1942. During the war, the 427 Bomber Squadron flew 3,338 sorties and dropped 10,294 tons of bombs. They lost a total of 90 aircraft on operations as well as 501 aircrew killed or missing in action. The Squadron’s last mission, against Wangerooge, occurred on April 25, 1945. The Squadron was disbanded at RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) Station Leeming, United Kingdom on June 1, 1946.

The 427 Squadron was reformed as a fighter squadron flying the Sabre Mk.2 fighter at RCAF Station St. Hubert on August 1, 1952 but was disbanded once again on December 15, 1962. The Squadron was then redesignated two days later, on December 17, 1962, in the nuclear “strike” role as a CF-104 Starfighter unit at RCAF Station Zweibrucken, Germany. It was later disbanded on July 1, 1970.

On January 1, 1971, the Lions were reformed as the 427 Tactical Helicopter Squadron (Sqn). During the summer of 1990, a sub-unit of 450 Sqn, designated SERT Assault Helicopter Flight (SAH Flt), was formed to provide dedicated support to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Special Emergency Response Team (SERT). When the SERT transferred its responsibilities to JTF 2 in April 1993, the SAH Flt increased its size to a full SAH squadron. However, the move of 450 Sqn from Ottawa to Montreal in the summer of 1994, combined with the transition from the CH-135 Twin-Engine Huey to the CH-146 Griffon helicopter, began to create operational limitations. As a result, the support role to JTF 2 was transferred to 427 Sqn, stationed at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, in the summer of 1996 with the creation of the Special Operations Aviation (SOA) Flight, designated “B” Flight.

By 1997, the first wave of 427 Sqn SOA personnel began their transition to the Griffon. Fifty per cent of the “B” Flight remained on stand-by duty on the Huey platform. The squadron completed its transition by year’s end. Throughout this period, “B” Flight expanded its capability to keep in sync with the maturation of JTF 2. As such, “B” Flight pushed the envelope on urban and maritime operations. In October 2003, “B” Flight participated in its first national-level, maritime special operations exercise.

When 427 Tactical Helicopter Sqn was assigned to CANSOFCOM in February 2006, it was redesignated 427 SOAS, providing both dedicated support for counter terrorism, and general aviation support to the Command. Shortly after, in response to requirements in the Afghanistan theatre of operations, 427 SOAS used innovation and adaptability to also develop an expeditionary capability. By 2009, 427 SOAS aircrews were flying MI-17 Hip helicopters in direct support of the CANSOFCOM SOTF in theatre and they continued to do so until the end of Canadian combat operations in Afghanistan.

The operational tour of duty in Afghanistan broke the mold. Today, the Squadron continues with its domestic counter-terrorism role, as well as an expeditionary capability that has been exercised in locations across the globe. 

Join our unit

If you are interested in joining, please contact our recruiting office at 613-687-5511 x3326 or email us at 427SOA_EOSA@forces.gc.ca.

Contact information

Public Affairs
Email: CANSOFCOMPA@forces.gc.ca

Page details

Date modified: