CFB Borden was a busy place around 4 a.m., Tuesday, as five CT-155 Hawk jets arrived in a caravan from Collingwood.Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Retirement doesn’t have to be the end of the road.

In fact, it could be the beginning of something new, something fresh, something wonderful.

Take the CT-155 Hawk jet, for example.

A mainstay of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) since 2000, the entire fleet of CT-155 Hawks were officially retired March 8. 

Fifteen of the aircraft will start a new life at CFB Borden, at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering (CFSATE), where they’ll be used as training units.

The first five arrived at CFB Borden around 4 a.m., Tuesday, following an almost eight-hour journey from Collingwood, snaking through the region’s back roads.

“We started planning for the move about two months ago,” said Lt. Col. Francesco Messina, commanding officer of technical services. “We will be moving a total of 13 Hawks — starting with five last night and five tonight.”

The caravan will leave Collingwood Regional Airport around 8:30 p.m. tonight (May 14).

Messina says the military split the Hawks into two groups to minimize any impact the move might have on local residents. 

Moving at a snail’s pace, the 31-vehicle caravan included the five CT-155 jets, a half-dozen OPP vehicles, a bus, a recovery vehicle, a wrecker and more than a dozen pick-up trucks.

“Our biggest challenge was putting together a plan that could safely deliver the planes here (at CFB Borden),” Messina said. “The direct route was not the best route because of the obstacles. We used the back roads because it was safer and there were less obstructions that we had to deal with.

“It took a lot longer though,” Messina added.

When all of the planes arrive at Borden, they’ll be in the care of Lt. Col. Ismael Koussay, who is the commandant of CFSATE.

“RCAF commander General (Eric Jean) Kenny decided to send those aircraft to CFSATE to modernize our training aids,” Koussay said. “Currently, the CT-114 Tutor is being used as the backbone of our training aids.”

Koussay said the Hawk, which was designed in the 1970s, is a better fit for today’s RCAF.

“The Hawk’s digital cockpit, heads-up display, computers, modern air frames and landing gear are much closer to the aircraft that are being operated by the RCAF,” Koussay said.

“The introduction of the Hawk will close the technology gap between what we expose our students to with what they’re going to be working on in the field with operational units,” Koussay added. “That’s the main advantage of moving from the Tutor to the Hawk.”

According to Koussay, the military trains hundreds of students every year and the Tutors have been used so extensively that their age is showing.

The challenge with them, he said, is finding replacement parts.

And while they may decide to keep a few of the Tutors for some training purposes, Koussay acknowledged that the Tutors have their limits.

“The complexity of the weapons systems we have currently in the field may not be represented in the Tutor,” he said. “This is one example of where the Hawk will provide us with the modernization step.”

By Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 14, 2024 at 13:18

This item reprinted with permission from   BarrieToday   Barrie, Ontario

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