CAF’s Aurora aircraft gathers aerial imagery in the Caribbean to support hurricane relief

Front view of an aircraft on a runway.
The CP-140 crew prepares for a reconnaissance mission over the British Virgin Islands under Operation RENAISSANCE on September 21, 2017. Photo: Corporal Gary Calvé, Imagery Technician ATF RENAISSANCE.


By: Captain Dallas Bregg, Pilot, 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron

On September 15, 2017, a CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft arrived in Barbados as part of Operation RENAISSANCE IRMA MARIA—the Canadian Armed Forces mission to support hurricane relief in the Caribbean.

The Aurora, which came from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron out of 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia, had the task of capturing aerial imagery to support partner nations in their relief efforts.

“This valuable imagery helps our partners better assess and respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Irma,” explained First Officer Captain Tai Feng.

The CC-140 Aurora’s multi-spectrum Block III sensor suite lends itself well the overland watch of the devastation in the region. Specifically, its full motion video capabilities have given British and Canadian commanders on the ground in Barbados a sense of the devastation caused by the hurricane. This information is crucial for assessment and planning purposes.

Due to the complex and constantly changing situation in the Caribbean region, the 18-member crew of the Aurora were given 12-hour notice to move. This flexibility allowed the Aurora to be on the ground in Barbados immediately after being tasked. Once on the ground, the two-member crew of the CAF Deployable Mission Support Centre (DMSC) quickly configured their equipment so it could process the imagery it would collect.

“The aircraft, crew and DMSC were mission capable within 24 hours of landing,” said Captain Feng. “Our team’s flexibility was again tested when were tasked to fly our first mission and then land before the next hurricane hit.”

Working alongside their British counterparts, the CP-140 detachment collected imagery of five of the hardest hit islands: Turks and Caicos, Montserrat, Dominica, British Virgin Islands, and Anguilla.

“My heart goes out to the people of the Caribbean,” said Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator, Corporal Kyle Keigan, while describing his experience filming the devastated islands.

While deployed in the Caribbean, the Aurora flew more than 37 hours, collecting valuable imagery that enabled partner nations to help people in need. The Aurora and its crew departed Barbados to return to Canada on September 24, 2017, once its mission was complete.

Through Operation RENAISSANCE IRMA MARIA, the Canadian Armed Forces is delivering a rapid response that is flexible enough to make an immediate positive impact at the scene of the disaster, and to continue helping people as the situation develops.

Image gallery

  • A military member in an aircraft takes notes as he looks out a window.
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  • Front view of an aircraft on a runway.
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