The Air Force has made an internal recommendation that CFB Petawawa be the new home to the 16 Chinook helicopters it hopes to eventually receive.
Although no contract has been signed yet it is anticipated by this summer.
CFB Edmonton, CFB Bagotville and CFB Petawawa were in the running as the location.
The official line from DND is that no decision has been made on where to station the Chinooks. An estimated 450 personnel will be assigned to the location of wherever the helicopters are based.
The Basing Recommendation Briefing produced by the office of CAS Lt.-Gen. Angus Watt notes the following: “Petawawa was assessed as being the most operationally responsive location to support the Army and special operations forces while incurring a reasonable and proportionately minor infrastructure cost increase compared to Bagotville,” the briefing pointed out.
The main drawback of Bagotville, according to the briefing, was the lack of “army acculturation.” The CF defined that as the “beneficial personal effect of co-location between Army and (Chinook) personnel on an Army base.” CFB Bagotville is an air force base.
“Proximity with Army personnel in liaison, daily operations and personnel inaction is a key enabler to maximizing interoperability during training and operations,” the briefing noted.
It points out that extra costs to operate from CFB Petawawa would amount to $338 million while locating at CFB Bagotville would cost $341 million. CFB Edmonton was the most expensive option at $380 million.
“Petawawa was assessed as being the most operationally responsive location to support the Army and special operations forces while incurring a reasonable and proportionately minor infrastructure cost increase compared to Bagotville,” the briefing added.
Besides being the most expensive, the negative aspects of CFB Edmonton included its high cost of living, the far distance away from CANSOFCOM units--JTF2 located in Ottawa and CSOR in Petawawa, as well as concerns about urban encroachment, noise and night flying.
Petawawa has a large amount of space for operations and is far enough away from major urban centres.
The Bloc Quebecois has complained in the House of Commons about Bagotville being passed over.
But with no official decision yet announced will CFB Petawawa ultimately be the new home for the aircraft or will politics play a major role here?
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