February 22, 2021 – From February 13 to 21, 2021, members of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 440 Transport Squadron took part in “ARCEX 21” near Deadhorse, Alaska. With two, ski-equipped CC-138 Twin Otters, the squadron assisted the United States Navy’s Arctic Undersea Laboratory with the creation of ski-plane landing zones, while supporting the movement of personnel and equipment as they conduct studies on arctic ice floes. This allowed members of 440 Squadron to hone their ski-flying capabilities in the challenging Arctic, while providing logistical support to American allies.
The Arctic Submarine Laboratory is responsible for developing and maintaining expertise in Arctic specific skills, knowledge, equipment, and procedures to enable the United States Navy’s submarine force to safely and effectively operate in the unique Arctic Ocean environment.
As one of the most versatile and resilient aircraft in the world, the RCAF’s CC-138 Twin Otters are perfect to support the research, as they are highly adaptable and well suited to the ever-changing northern climate and terrain.
The CC-138 Twin Otter is a short take-off and landing utility-transport aircraft. It can be outfitted with wheels, including large “tundra tires” or skis for landing on snow and ice. Despite temperatures dipping to the low minus 30s, the CC-138 and crew are more than capable of operating in cold weather.
“We’re happy to help our colleagues in the USN undertake these studies in the Arctic, showcasing the agility and ruggedness of our Twin Otters as we take cargo and scientists where they need to go,” said Lieutenant Colonel Devlon Paquette, Commanding Officer, 440 Transport Squadron. “It’s also great Arctic training for our crews, enabling us to safely take off and land on sea ice in support of any mission we might be called to do.”
To operate safely and effectively in support of the United States Navy, 440 Squadron members followed COVID-19 mitigation measures in accordance with RCAF and local public health measures in Alaska, which included wearing non-medical masks, minimizing contacts to only essential interactions and respecting physical distancing.
Upon arriving in Alaska, the crews adhered to State of Alaska entry requirements, including a COVID-19 test conducted within 72 hours prior to arrival. Before returning to their home base in the Northwest Territories (N.W.T.), 440 Squadron members will first self-isolate for 14 days in Inuvik, N.W.T., in military accommodations, in accordance with N.W.T. Public Health Orders, before proceeding to Yellowknife.